Swainson’s Hawk in the Centennial Valley of Montana

Adult Swainson's Hawk callingAdult Swainson’s Hawk calling – Nikon D300, f8, 1/1250, ISO 250, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited or called in

Summer can be very busy for me because of camping trips to find and photograph birds and there are periods during that time where I don’t get back to edit images taken during the summer season until later. While August is traditionally the slowest month for birds in Utah that isn’t the case in the Centennial Valley of Montana which can be very birdy.

I photographed the calling adult Swainson’s Hawk in August in the Centennial Valley of Montana, it was a very cooperative hawk that stayed perched and it kept calling.

Swainson's Hawk in the Centennial Valley of MontanaSwainson’s Hawk in the Centennial Valley of Montana – Nikon D300, f9, 1/320, ISO 320, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited or called in

This adult Swainson’s had two juveniles nearby that were perched on the conifer tree that their natal nest was in and the sun was getting close to setting. Sometimes I wish I could “speak” raptor so I could know what they are saying.

Calling adult Swainson's HawkCalling adult Swainson’s Hawk – Nikon D300, f9, 1/320, ISO 320, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited or called in

The Swainson’s Hawks have already made their long migration south, I wonder if next summer I will see this hawk and its young in the gorgeous setting of the Centennial Valley of Montana again.


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About Mia McPherson

I am a nature lover, wildlife watcher and a bird photographer. I first become serious about bird photography when I moved to Florida in 2004 and it wasn’t long before I was hooked (addicted is more like it). My move to the Salt Lake area of Utah was a great opportunity to continue observing their behavior and to pursue my passion for photographing birds.


  1. Hawks. Such regal birds. Always stunning to see in a photo and you do them more than justice. Love these images Mia. Have a good weekend. Carol

  2. Beautiful images of this majestic raptor Mia! Swainson’s Hawks are a threatened species in California, one of the reasons we used its image on our template for the proposed Wildlife Conservation Stamp!

  3. Hi Mia, Beautiful pictures, beautiful bird! I only get to visit Montana every three years, but the Centennial Valley is now on the itinerary for the next trip. Thanks!

    • Dick, I think you will fall in love with the Centennial Valley, I know I did the first time I went there. You can see more about the valley and the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge here in my favorite locations. Thanks so much for your comment and visiting my blog!

  4. Hope the Swainson’s Hawk is making a full recovery in population after the mexican field spraying in the 90’s. Lovely capture of the “dark bib” that makes identification of the Swainsons Hawk easy from the Red Tail’s “belly band”. Thanks for sharing…. -M. @PDogB

  5. Great Photos Mia. Of course that small white dot on the post ruins them ;). Hawks all seem to be steeped in personality to me. I am sure this guy is telling a bedtime story for the kids or telling jokes. Perfectly captured as always. Thanks.

  6. Raptors are so captivating and majestic, and your images always do them justice!

  7. Wonderful photos Mia, these are beautiful birds that I actually see quite often, I hope you see them again next year:)

  8. I learn a lot from you, Swainson’s Hawk is another new one, beautiful photos, cheers Mia.

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