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SWAINSON’S HAWK } Buteo swainsoni

RANGE: Western North America (winters in Central and South America)

STATUS: Swainson’s hawks are considered Common but declining throughout much of its range; Critically Imperiled in Arkansas and Illinois; Imperiled in Alaska, California, Nevada and Missouri, and British Columbia, Canada.

THREATS: Loss of agricultural lands and riverbank habitat to urban development, shooting, pesticide poisoning of prey animals and hawks on wintering grounds, human disturbance at nest sites

The Swainson’s hawk, also known as the locust hawk because it eats mostly insects, hunts in grasslands and prairies throughout western North America. These hawks, which also dine on small rodents and birds, typically nest in isolated trees or bushes along rivers. In the fall they gather in huge congregations to undertake one of the longest migrations of any American raptor, traveling from as far as Canada to their wintering grounds in South America. A Swainson's hawk can make the 6,200-mile migration in less than two months, averaging nearly 125 miles per day. Pesticide use on agricultural fields in Argentine wintering grounds caused die-offs of thousands of Swainson's hawks in the 1990s.

Photo © Don Getty