Swainson’s Hawks are special. As special as any bird that is abundant… just not abundant in your neck of the woods. OK sure, it is only an hour drive before I reach Swainson’s paradise in the Central Valley of California… but where I live, any large brown Buteo has a higher probability of Red-tailed Hawkishness. It takes a special trip to see these special birds, and as such, the pointy-winged migrants are particularly cool to me. The one above is a portrait of a long lived captive bird at a local rehab center.
I was just up in Alberta (and missed my last 10,000 birds post as a result) and my Red-tailed-ready instincts fell apart as each big raptor I saw turned out to be a Swainie. So I thought it might be nice to share some encounters from previous outings. The first time I spent any quality time with them was in Klamath Basin on the border of California and Oregon. I quickly discovered they are vocal creatures, perhaps because it was summer time and the breeding season was just finishing up.
I imagine this is the last thing many gophers in Klamath see. The landing gear came down and I ducked into my car and left the quartet in peace. I was surprised by the level of protectiveness given the advanced age of the kids, but I guess my main exposure to young hawks is in urban areas where people in proximity are generally tolerated. The story changes in the great wild expanses to the north.