Swainson’s Hawk

photo by Phil Swanson

Buteo swainsoni
L 21″(53 cm) W 52″(132 cm).

Song or calls:
Listen (NGPC audio)

Generally silent. Will give whistled sounds near nest.

Description: Sexes similar. Plumage is variable. Light phase dark brown above. White throat and belly. Dark solid bib across breast. Darker underwing flight feathers contrast against white wing linings. Tail has dark border with white trailing edge. Dark phase entirely dark brown. Also intermediate phase.

bird map
Habitat: Found in open country, especially high plains and sandhills. Requires only scattered trees for nesting sites.

Where in Nebraska: Common to uncommon spring and fall migrant and summer resident across the state. Rarer in the east. Regular breeder. None overwinter.

Nebraska Seasons: Largest numbers seen during fall migration in late September.

Fun Facts: Swainson’s hawks, although a true hawk, feeds primarily on insects during the nonbreeding season.

Swainson's Hawk - NEBRASKAland Magazine/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission  Swainson's Hawk - photo by Phil Swanson
(click image for larger view)