Swainson’s Hawks will arrive any day now

/, Box Elder County, Swainson's Hawks, Utah/Swainson’s Hawks will arrive any day now

Adult Swainson's HawkAdult Swainson’s Hawk light morph – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2000, ISO 640, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

It is dark outside as I write this and there is perhaps 1 to 2 inches of snow on the ground and it is still coming down, winter is trying to hang on while spring is trying to push its way in. The season clash this time of the year and fluctuations in temperature and precipitation are expected.

What else is expected?

I know that I am expecting an influx of migrating birds including Swainson’s Hawks. Last year I saw my first of the year Swainson’s Hawk on April 10th in Box Elder County in northern Utah. It was a delightful day with clear skies and nice light and the hawk above is that Swainson’s.

As soon as this cold front passes I will be out looking for the birds of spring. Swainson’s Hawks will arrive any day now and I am ready for them!



  1. Larry Jordan March 24, 2013 at 8:55 am

    Beautiful Mia. I don’t know if your readers know this but the Swainson’s Hawk is now reduced in numbers or distribution throughout its range and considered to be declining in Utah, Nevada, and Oregon. They are listed as a Species of Special Concern in Utah, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, and as Threatened in California. These beautiful raptors were historically considered “vermin” and shot by ranchers and farmers until the late 1930’s, even though they actually prey on agricultural pests and are beneficial. Hopefully the general public is more educated about wildlife these days. Information from Birds of North America Online.

    • Mia McPherson March 26, 2013 at 6:45 am


      I have to wonder if habitat loss and pesticides don’t play a big part in the decline of Swainson’s Hawks. Many people don’t realize that during breeding season Swainson’s Hawks consume far more insects than rodents and that grasshoppers are a main source of prey. So poison the grasshoppers and they might be poisoning the hawks.

      I keep coming back to thoughts of how badly we are screwing up the natural balance.

  2. Tammy Karr March 23, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    Awesome capture, Mia! Hope the hawks arrive soon!

  3. Prairie Birder March 23, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    I can’t wait to see your first Swainson’s Hawk photograph of the year!

  4. Sherry in MT March 23, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    I think you need to come teach me how to get these fabulous flight shots! You are waiting for hawks like I am the herons! cold and frigid here today with snow blowing through. Even at Freezeout they think the big “influx” of geese is over and it wasn’t that big! 🙁

    • Mia McPherson March 26, 2013 at 6:43 am

      Sherry, I have been seeing a lot of herons flying high lately, maybe they are some of the ones heading your way. It got frigid here again but there is a warming trend this week. I want to feel the sun warm me up again!

  5. Laurence Butler March 23, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    Yes!! we’re anticipating big movements here too. Next few weekends will be very busy/birdy.

    • Mia McPherson March 26, 2013 at 6:41 am

      Laurence, I hope your next few weeks are very birdy so I can see and read about them on your blog!

  6. biobabbler March 23, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    Swainson’s hawks were some of the birds we were noting in our nest & bird monitoring work this last week. They are SO elegant while being pretty darned big. Very sleek. Def. extra gorgeous & stylish. =) Hope you get to see them soon.

    • Mia McPherson March 26, 2013 at 6:40 am

      Thanks biobabbler. I heard from a friend yesterday that he spotted a Swainson’s in our area. Hopefully I will get to see one tomorrow.

  7. Jane Chesebrough March 23, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    We got a foot plus of snow but I heard my first Canada Goose at the neighbourhood park.We had a pair of Swainson Hawks by a bridge beside the river that flows through downtown , will be sure to check that out again this year. Lovely capture, Mia.

    • Mia McPherson March 26, 2013 at 6:39 am

      Jane, sorry to hear you got so much snow, spring is on the way though! Thanks for commenting.

  8. John Randall March 23, 2013 at 8:15 am

    Excellent action photo Mia !

    • Mia McPherson March 23, 2013 at 8:17 am

      Thank you John, these hawks make great subjects!!

  9. Susan March 23, 2013 at 7:21 am

    Fantastic image Mia. Like you Mia, I can’t wait to see my first hawk of the season, most likely it will be a Red-Tail, but you just never know

    • Mia McPherson March 23, 2013 at 8:13 am

      Keeping my fingers crossed for both of us Susan!

  10. eric c11 March 23, 2013 at 7:17 am

    hoo great, i like the feather’s details, very nice ☺
    not so easy to catch, only if he keeps same trajectory, you have the time to adjust the framing
    have a good week end ☼

    • Mia McPherson March 23, 2013 at 8:13 am

      Thank you Eric, have a super weekend!

  11. Bob Bushell March 23, 2013 at 6:31 am

    A flying Hawk, you can’t beat that.

    • Mia McPherson March 23, 2013 at 6:52 am

      I do love to catch them in flight! Thank you Bob.

  12. Eileen March 23, 2013 at 6:26 am

    Awesome capture, Mia! Happy Birding!

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