DAKOTA – SWAINSON’S HAWK
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Hatch Year: 2015
Arrival to WBS: 2015
Reason for Residence: left wing injury
Dakota was found injured on the side of a roadway in Nebraska, and is believed to have been struck by a car. This collision fractured his wing, and he was thankfully brought to a wildlife hospital for treatment. The fracture was very near a joint in his wing, and during the healing process that joint was partially fused shut which prevents Dakota from being able to fly. At less than a year old, he was rehomed at World Bird Sanctuary. After several months he adjusted to humans so well that he became a member of our education team and has traveled as part of our educational outreach programs.
These days Dakota can now be found on our display line in one of our newest mixed species exhibits! His favorite pastimes are laying flap on top of his shelter box to sun and sitting on one of the very front perches so he can look down on all the guests who come to visit him.
SPECIES: SWAINSON’S HAWK
CONSERVATION STATUS: LEAST CONCERN
Swainson’s Hawk numbers have been stable overall, with a slight increase between 1966 and 2015, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Certain pesticides used in Argentina to control grasshoppers (known as monocrotophos and dimethoat) killed thousands of wintering Swainson’s Hawks in the mid 1990s. Since then, an educational campaign and the banning of these pesticides have apparently been successful in reducing mortality, although other pesticides may pose a threat.
Scientific Name: Buteo swainsoni
Description: large hawks with fairly broad wings and short tails; most are light-bellied birds with a dark or reddish-brown chest and brown or gray upperparts. They have distinctive underwings with white wing linings that contrast strongly with blackish flight feathers. Dark individuals also occur; these vary from reddish to nearly all black, with reduced contrast on the underwings.
Sex: : Most males have gray heads; females tend to have brown heads and are larger and heavier.
Age: up to 19 years
Weight: 24.4-48.2 oz.
Habitat: open and semi-open country – deserts, grasslands and prairies – in both its breeding and wintering ranges. It favors wild prairie, hayfields, and pastures over wheat fields and alfalfa fields.
Range: Swainson’s hawk inhabits North America mainly in the spring and summer, and winters in South America.
Behavior: monogamous; males choose the nest site, usually near the top of a solitary tree or in a small grove of trees along a stream. Pairs often build nests in shelterbelts or other trees located near agricultural fields and pastures where they feed. Swainson’s Hawks are social raptors, nearly always being found in groups outside the breeding season. You may see them soaring in a kettle of migrating birds; strung out on the ground, fence posts, and utility poles when foraging on grasshoppers; or chasing swarms of dragonflies on winter quarters in Argentina.
Diet: mammals and insects
Vocalization: Adults make a shrill kreeeeee alarm call when perched or in flight, often in response to intruders at the nest and pi-tick, pi-tick pursuit call when defending territorial boundaries.
– Nicknamed “grasshopper hawk” or “locust hawk”
– Groups of soaring or migrating hawks are called “kettles.” When it comes to forming kettles, Swainson’s Hawks are overachievers: they form flocks numbering in the tens of thousands
– Swainson’s Hawks often forage on foot, running after insects and small mammals with wings partly outstretched.
– Your best bet for finding Swainson’s Hawks is during summer in open country west of the Mississippi River.