Box Elder County Dark Morph Swainson’s Hawk

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Dark morph Swainson's Hawk with shadowed mountains in the backgroundDark morph Swainson’s Hawk with shadowed mountains in the background – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/500, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

Yesterday we reached a high of 53°F in Salt Lake City, it was the third day of temps above 50°F in a row, in January, in northern Utah. It feels more like late March or early April and I’m wondering if winter decided to pass us by. I hope not because we really need more snow pack in the mountains to fill the reservoirs to provide water for the summer and fall.

At least my sinus headache finally left me alone yesterday afternoon.

I dug into my archives from last spring to find something to share here today and came up with this gorgeous dark morph Swainson’s Hawk that I photographed last May in Box Elder County. I recall that during May of 2017 I saw more dark morph Swainson’s Hawks than I had seen in May of any previous year since my move to Utah in 2009. It was exciting for me to to see and photograph so many dark morph Swainson’s Hawks.

When I can get beautiful light on a Swainson’s Hawk and deeply shadowed mountains in the background Mother Nature creates the drama. The hawk stands out like a glorious feathered beacon in the morning light against a dark velvety blue background or maybe it is more like a rich indigo blue. This photo became one of my favorite Swainson’s Hawk images from last spring and I simply don’t know why I haven’t shared it on my blog before today especially since it has been in my photo galleries since right after I photographed this bird.

It won’t be all that long before the Swainson’s leave South America and start to head our way again.

Life is good.



  1. Elephants Child January 15, 2018 at 1:43 pm

    A truly glorious bird.
    I do hope you get some moisture from the sky. Soon. Drought and the attendant fire risk are truly scary things.

  2. April Olson January 15, 2018 at 11:14 am

    I am worried about our water year. We drive to Las Vegas every year for the CES show in January. I was shocked by the lack of snow statewide. The mountains and valleys are bare! I kicked my foot into the soil about 8 inches at one of our stops in central Utah. The ground was not frozen and as dusty as powder.

  3. Patty Chadwick one of my favorite birds January 15, 2018 at 9:54 am

    Couldn’t be better!!!! It all came together…beautifully!!!

  4. Laura Culley January 15, 2018 at 9:49 am

    What a beauty! I love it when Mother Nature cooperates, providing just the right conditions to celebrate Her handiwork! And oh how glorious it is to share in its majesty.

  5. M. Bruce January 15, 2018 at 7:57 am

    Doesn’t the story always come down to the beautiful light? What a wonderful thing!

  6. Bob mcphersons January 15, 2018 at 7:35 am


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