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Swainson's Hawk

Swainson's Hawk
Photo Information
Copyright: Rick Price (Adanac) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1273 W: 1 N: 6188] (21378)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2008-04-29
Categories: Birds
Camera: Canon 40D, Canon 100-400/4.5-5.6L IS
Exposure: f/6.3, 1/320 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2008-04-30 5:40
Viewed: 3198
Favorites: 1 [view]
Points: 40
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Yesterday morning was very fruitful in the hawk department. Here is a Swainson's Hawk busy with nest building duties. They have choosen a willow tree near a farm with lots of Richardson Ground Squirrels in the pasture land. This fall the family may fly past Jane in Arizona and Luis in Mexico on that long migration to Argentina. Have a great day everyone, I'm slowly catching up on my comments, thank you for your patience.

Swainson's Hawk
Buteo swainsoni
General Description

By Lee Sollenberger

This is a common buteo of the grassland region of the western USA and Canada. In Alberta, it occurs in the prairie regions wherever there is a tree or even a single clump of willows in which it can place its nest. Often seen sitting on a fence-post or telephone pole, it is the only raptor that allows one to drive up to it, stop and look at it, without it flying away.

Swainsons Hawks winter in the pampas region of Argentina, feeding entirely on grasshoppers while there. They arrive back in southern Alberta during the third week of April. Immediately, they claim their previous year's nest, if still intact. If not, they build a new one, often in a farm shelterbelt in the rural areas, or mainly along the Bow River

After rearing their family, all leave the province by the end of September. They gather in ever greater numbers until they are in the hundreds of thousands as they pass through Mexico and Central America, making the longest migration flight of any North American raptor. Because they travel in such high numbers, they make the entire 10,000 km one-way journey with little or no food. They are able to do so by passively using solar energy, gliding from one rising air thermal to the next.

While in Alberta, their diet consists of small rodents, mainly Richardson's Ground Squirrels, augmented by Northern Pocket Gophers and Meadow Voles. They also consume insects in great numbers. This species is very beneficial to the agricultural community.

The nest of the Swainson's Hawk is usually placed in the crotch of a deciduous tree at a height of 2-15m (6-50 ft.). It is roughly constructed of sticks, twigs and lined with bark, with leafy twigs added intermittently. The usually two to four pale greenish eggs are laid in May and incubated by both sexes for 28 days. The young are capable of flight when four to five weeks old.

Argus, Art_R, Maite, eqshannon, NinaM, jaycee, nglen, Jamesp, gerbilratz, RP1, CeltickRanger, Luis52, writerscrawlz has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • Art_R Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 244 W: 20 N: 839] (3892)
  • [2008-04-30 6:06]

Hi Rick , great hawk photo , with good color and detail. TFS



  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2008-04-30 6:07]

Hello Rick,
Superb capture of a Swainson's Hawk with a bit of nesting material in its beak. The POV, pose and sharpness are great. I also like the composition of the twigs and branches all leaning in the same direction against the blue sky and parallel with the hawk's body.
Thanks for sharing this fine image,

  • Great 
  • Maite Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 998 W: 65 N: 1270] (5199)
  • [2008-04-30 6:24]

Hello Rick
What a beautiful bird this Swainson's Hawk and how good that you captured it busy with its 'nest building duties'. I wonder that you were at the point just in time. Magnificent shot with great sharpness and marvellous natural colors and composition.
Thank you very much for sharing.
My best regards

  • Great 
  • PaulH Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1137 W: 26 N: 3879] (13882)
  • [2008-04-30 6:31]

Hi Rick,
very nice documentation of this nest building Hawk. Love the gold lighting and detail in his/her feathers. Very nice setting amongst all that construction material too :o)
Cheers mate,

You have a fine knack for getting into natures face, one on one...mano a mano...Very neat image and so much Western Canadian Rockies in appearance...I think that being even near the foothills of th Rockies demands that strong birds look this way...as if they were the aviary of mountain men...VERY good and strong image Rick.

  • Great 
  • NinaM Gold Star Critiquer [C: 773 W: 3 N: 1157] (4077)
  • [2008-04-30 8:24]

Hello Rick, great one! The light is fantastic, the bird too. What will you photograph when in full season! Thank you!


  • Great 
  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2008-04-30 9:14]

Hi Rick,

Wow - another hawk! Very nice shot - there are advantages to bare branches. He positioned himself nicely for a picture. Good colors and details - and a blue sky!!! Remind me to look for him next fall. Afraid there's a long hot summer first.


  • Great 
  • nglen Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2883 W: 30 N: 9683] (36145)
  • [2008-04-30 12:04]

Hi Rick. You had a good day to get this one as well. Good detail and natural colours. It looks a big healty bird. a good POV in the tree. well done TFS. good notes too,

  • Great 
  • Jamesp Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
  • [2008-04-30 13:06]

Hi Rick

Great pose with lovely early morning light/ Nice eye contact too.


Hi Rick, I am not familiar with this species, so a very interesting and welcoming addition. The details are wonderfully clear and the shades well defined. great bit of timing to get this bird with nesting material. TFS regards h

Hello Rick,
nice capture, good sharpness and depth of field, nice
natural colors and good light, excellent composition
and point of view.

Hi Rick,
As if the Hawk cooperates...
"I will take away this distracting branch.":-)
And then
"Go ahead, Rick"
"You can photograph now..."
Wonderful moment.
Well done

  • Great 
  • RP1 Gold Star Critiquer [C: 154 W: 1 N: 6] (251)
  • [2008-04-30 17:01]

Hi Rick,
Great capture! Most be very impress to see a such bird next to you.

hello Rick

excellent shot of the Swainson's Hawk with fine POV, DOF
and framing, lovely monring luminosity on the subject,4
excellent sharpness and details, TFS


  • Great 
  • Luis52 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1175 W: 8 N: 4240] (15809)
  • [2008-04-30 19:31]

Hi Rick.
Of course. I will be waiting for those beautiful Hawks to come here, and I hope to take some photos of them in their way to south
of America.
You have a beuatiful and fine photo Rick. Just look at his eyes looking at You.
Great image My friend.

  • Great 
  • joey Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1739 W: 224 N: 6872] (24909)
  • [2008-05-01 1:03]

Hello Rick,
what a fine capture of this Swainson's Hawk!
And I've just realised that the stick going across his beak is actually in his beak and he's using it for his nest... just like you said in your note! :-)
Very nice morning light that has cast a golden glow over the scene.
Excellent image quality as usual.
Well composed.
Great clarity.
Well done Rick!


  • Great 
  • Mana Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1772 W: 36 N: 5597] (18598)
  • [2008-05-01 5:49]

Hi Rick,
Splendid shot of this Hawk busy building its nest. Those dried branches gives a nice symmetry and perspective. The warm lighting looks great and I like your chosen POV to portray it. Very nicely composed. Kudos.

WOW! I love the sun highlights on this hawk, the way a twig is in his beak, and yet, he can still look at you - as if to make sure you intend no harm.

I love the details on his beak, especially the patch of yellow and his pose is perfect. The lighting really enhances his body and adds a bit of drama to this scene. Very beautiful - but then, most of your work is. :)

  • Great 
  • pvb Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 385 W: 16 N: 531] (1981)
  • [2008-05-05 11:33]

Hi Rick,
I always like that you can come so close to your subjects.
This one to, great photo of a very handsome looking bird of pray. Great sharpness and focus. Good compo and pov and against a nice looking bg
TFS Paula

  • Great 
  • arfer Gold Star Critiquer [C: 2731 W: 0 N: 0] (0)
  • [2008-05-16 21:56]

Hello Rick

A super POV of this hawk.You seem to get quite close to them.As you know they have wonderful vision so not much gets past them...lol.
The colours are true and natural.
The eye has very good catch light.
Well done.

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