Swainson’s Hawk

Buteo swainsoni

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  • Swainson’s Hawk |  Photo: Derek Bakken
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Basic Information






Swainson's Hawks are generally between 18.75 and 22.25 inches in length.


up to 19.5 years


Swainson's Hawk (Buteo swainsoni) facts, habitat, range, hawk pictures and bird watching tips to help you identify the bird of prey.


Swainson's Hawks eat small mammals and insects.




Midwest-Western U.S.

Nest Placement


Number of Offspring

2–5 Eggs

Egg Description

White with dark reddish spots

Condition at Hatching

Feeble, naked

Social Status

Solitary, Pairs, Flocks


45.75–54.25 in

Observation Tips

Take a hike along your favorite trail in the western U.S. running through open country with plenty of options for Swainson's Hawks to perch.

What does the Swainson’s Hawk look like?

Swainson's Hawks are large slender birds of prey. They have long broad finger-like wings and short tails. In the light morph, they have white throats, foreheads and chests that sharply contrast their chocolate brown heads and upper bodies. During the dark morph, adults are a dark chocolate brown. Juveniles are a mottled brown.

Swainson’s Hawk Habitat


Swainson’s Hawk Facts

Swainson's Hawks are a summer bird of prey to the Great Plains and western U.S. They have one of the longest migrations of any raptor, wintering in southern South America and spending their summers breeding in the Western U.S. When migrating they form extremely large flocks that often number more than ten thousand. They were originally identified as the common buzzard, but Napoleon Bonaparte's nephew, Charles Lucien Bonaparte corrected the error in 1832. They feed mainly on small rodents and thousands of grasshoppers.

See also