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Swainson's Hawk Identification

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The Four Keys to ID

  • Size & Shape

    Swainson’s Hawks are buteos, meaning they are large hawks with fairly broad wings and short tails. However, Swainson’s Hawks are less hefty than many other buteos. They are slimmer and longer-winged, with their wings typically held in a shallow V when soaring.

    Relative Size

    Larger than a Cooper’s Hawk; smaller than a Ferruginous Hawk.

    Relative Sizebetween crow and goosebetween crow and goose

    • Both Sexes
      • Length: 18.9-22.1 in (48-56 cm)
      • Weight: 24.4-48.2 oz (693-1367 g)

Regional Differences

Nearly all Swainson’s Hawks breeding in the eastern half of the range (east of the Rocky Mountains) are light in appearance. Darker-plumaged birds are more common in the West, although still in the minority, accounting for upwards of 10 percent of individuals.