Return of the Swainson’s Hawks

Adult Swainson's Hawk CallingAdult Swainson’s Hawk Calling – Nikon D300, f8, 1/400, ISO 320, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited (2012)

Last week I saw my first of the season Swainson’s Hawk not too far from the visitor’s center at Bear River National Wildlife Refuge and that got me excited. The Swainson’s Hawk I saw already had nesting material in it’s bill. Soon I will be seeing these handsome hawks in many locations in Utah, Idaho and Montana. This time of the year I will see adults…

A sub-adult Swainson's HawkA sub-adult Swainson’s Hawk – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1600, ISO 640, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 350mm, natural light, not baited (2013)

And sub-adults like this one I photographed in the Centennial Valley of Montana two summers ago. That fall I saw a kettle of about 70 Swainson’s Hawks over a field just about the time they would begin to migrate south, I was in awe seeing so many of them together like that.

Juvenile Swainson's Hawk in flightJuvenile Swainson’s Hawk in flight – Nikon D300, f7.1, 1/2500, ISO 500, +1.0 EV, Nikkor 18-200mm VR at 170mm, natural light, not baited (2014)

I won’t see juvenile Swainson’s Hawks until later in the summer but I always enjoy watching and photographing them once they have fledged and are learning to hunt on their own.

All of these images were taken in the Centennial Valley of Montana. It was in that valley that I photographed my very first Swainson’s Hawk juvenile, I will never forget that!

With the return of the Swainson’s Hawks will it be the summer of the Swainson’s? Time will tell.

Life is good.



  1. Humming Bird Lover April 12, 2015 at 2:03 pm

    Hi great photo’s and beautiful birds and you always get the clearest photo’s

  2. Elephant's Child April 8, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    All beautiful, but oh, that first shot…

  3. Dave Sparks April 8, 2015 at 11:33 am

    Handsome birds, beautiful images. Hopefully it will be the summer of the Swainsons.

  4. Patty Chadwick April 8, 2015 at 7:47 am

    Nice series…iI especially like the first with the weathered wood of the fence post, the open, calling beak and slightly raised foot. Also like the hazy, suggestion of background(context) of the third.

  5. Lois Bryan April 8, 2015 at 7:17 am

    What a beauty!!!!

  6. Bob Bushell April 8, 2015 at 6:58 am

    Fantastic images Mia.

Comments are closed.