Guardian Nature School Team Contact Blog Project Noah Facebook Project Noah Twitter

A global community of nature enthusiasts
photographing and learning about wildlife

Join Project Noah!
nature school apple icon

Project Noah Nature School visit nature school

Swainson's Hawk

Buteo swainsoni


Swainson's Hawk is a raptor and a medium-sized member of the Buteo genus. It broadly overlaps in size with the Red-tailed Hawk (B. jamaicensis), a related species found as a breeding resident almost throughout North America. Swainson's Hawk is on average a little shorter in length, 43–56 cm (17–22 in) long, and weighs a bit less, 0.5–1.7 kg (1.1–3.7 lb).[3][4][5] However, Swainson's Hawk has a slightly longer wingspan at 117–137 cm (46–54 in), with more slender, elongated wings, than the Red-tailed Hawk.[3] Female Swainson's Hawks, at an average weight of 1.15 kg (2.5 lb), are somewhat larger and heavier than males, at an average of 0.81 kg (1.8 lb).[3] Among standard measurements, the wing chord is 36.2–42.7 cm (14.3–16.8 in), the tail is 18.5–23.4 cm (7.3–9.2 in), the tarsus is 6.2–8 cm (2.4–3.1 in) and the bill (from the gape) is 3–3.5 cm (1.2–1.4 in).[3][6] In flight, Swainson's Hawk holds its wings in a slight dihedral; it tips back and forth slightly while soaring. There are two main color variations. Over 90% of individuals are light-morph; the dark morph is most common in the far west of the range:[7] (Wikipedia)


In town. Normally shrub-steppe.

Species ID Suggestions

Sign in to suggest organism ID


Arun 10 years ago

nice treat !!

Steve Lenz
Steve Lenz 10 years ago

Thank you! I am adding this and others to the raptors mission you mentioned.

ChristyHolland 10 years ago

Great series!! Reading the comments below, I do know that it takes about 5 years for them to reach sexual takes about that long for the chocolate bib to fill in completely. Fantastic!!

Steve Lenz
Steve Lenz 11 years ago

I am not super skilled in bird ID yet. I used to figure it out. From what I saw it appears to be a young one.

I think it is a gopher that it is eating. The hawk skillfully disemboweled the nasty stuff before eating the good stuff.

We are getting an influx of migratory birds now. We'll still be warm for another month and there are lots of prey bugs and rodents out right now.

EmilyMarino 11 years ago

What a skilled young hunter! He doesn't have his bib yet so he must be under a year old, don't you think? Great shots! Any idea what the prey animal is?

In the last couple weeks, all of our Swainson's Hawks here in Colorado have started to fly south.

Steve Lenz
Spotted by
Steve Lenz

Walla Walla, Washington, USA

Spotted on Aug 21, 2011
Submitted on Sep 22, 2012

Related Spottings

Buzzard Buteo buteo 普通鵟 Buzzard Common buzzard

Nearby Spottings

Folding-door Spider Tomato seedlings Confetti Radishes Spinach


Noah Guardians
Noah Sponsors
join Project Noah Team

Join the Project Noah Team