SWAINSONS BUZZARD. Buteo swainsoni
IDENTIFICATION. The Swainson's Buzzard (Swainson's hawk or Grasshopper hawk in the USA) is a bird with a wide variation of plumage colour. Generally the birds have a dark bib, with a pale abdomen and throat. Males have a prominent rust coloured bib. The lower abdomen is pale, varying from cream to white, with rust or brown barring and spots. The top, sides and back of the head are brown or grey with pale cream around the beak and the front of the neck. The tail is grey-brown tail with seven dark bands with the sub terminal band being wider. Feet and legs are yellow as is the first part of the beak. The tip is black.
IN FLIGHT. In flight, unlike other Buteo's, the Swainson's Hawk has pointed wings. These are held in a shallow V when gliding. Occasionally flight is low to the ground like a Harrier and in common with the Rough-legged Buzzard it may hover.
DISTRIBUTION. A migratory raptor that can be found from Northern California, Arizona, New Mexico and Kansas during the summer months to Uruguay, Brazil and Patagonia in Argentina in winter. Swainson's hawks prefer open habitats, including agricultural land, grassland and oak savannas
FOOD. Mainly insects including Dragonflies, Locusts and Grasshoppers. Mammals including small rodents, rabbits and gophers. Birds, reptiles and amphibians.
BREEDING. April-August. 2 or 4 eggs laid in a stick nest in trees or occasionally on rock face. Young hatch after 28-35 weeks, flying 30 days later.
SIZE. 48-55cm (19-22in)
WEIGHT. 600-1050g (1lb 9oz-2lb 5oz)
WINGSPAN. 130cm (51in)
CALL. A high pitched peeiou.