Family Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)

Least Concern

Swainson’s Hawk (Buteo swainsoni)


French: Buse de Swainson German: Präriebussard Spanish: Busardo chapulinero

Buteo Swainsoni


, 1838,

Fort Vancouver, Washington, USA


A member of the B. brachyurus clade (see that species); wider molecular study suggested sister relationship between present species and B. albigula#R, while another study indicated that it is very close to B. galapagoensis#R. Monotypic.


W & C North America from EC Alaska (rare) and W Canada S through W USA (E to Minnesota and EC Texas) to N Mexico. Winters mostly in South America, especially in N Argentina and, to some extent, neighbouring regions; also some in S & W USA.

Descriptive notes

48–56 cm; male 683–936 g, female 937–1700 g; wingspan 117–137 cm. Extremely variable: adult pale morph has brown upperparts and bib, with white throat... read more


Vocalizes mainly in breeding season and to lesser extent on winter quarters, principally giving a... read more


Most habitats, from woodland of aspen, oak and conifers to steppes and deserts; most common in... read more

Food and feeding

Seasonally variable diet: in breeding season, mainly mammals (rabbits, ground squirrels, voles and bats), but also birds (including Western... read more


Apr–Aug, commencing later (Jun) further N. Solitary, but often associated with B. regalis; in some areas, latter species,... read more


Highly migratory. Main non-breeding grounds (boreal winter) in Argentina, but birds speculated to... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Total population conservatively estimated at 40,000–55,000 breeding pairs, but much higher numbers counted on... read more

Recommended citation

White, C.M. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Swainson’s Hawk (Buteo swainsoni). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 24 February 2020).