Tuesday, 21 April 2015

B.O.T.D. Swainson's Hawk

Swainson's Hawk (Buteo swainsoni)

The farmer directs the mower through his field. Crickets and grasshoppers spring for safety as he passes. In the wake of the tractor, where the blades have passed and the grass is cropped short, a dozen russet-bibbed birds scramble and dance. Are they injured? Hardly. The birds are reaping the bounty of insects and small rodents exposed by the mower. The farmer does the work. The Swainson's hawk repays him for his kindness by consuming the creatures that consume his crops.

Light Morph
Among the world's long-distance champions, Swainson's hawks nest as far north as Alaska and winter on the plains of Argentina. In March, Swainson's hawks by the thousands pour across the Rio Grande from Mexico into Texas. When evening comes, the great flocks descend. In the morning, when the sun begins drawing thermals aloft, the birds rise up: dozens, scores, hundreds, thousands of Swaison's funnel skyward. The swirling tornadoes of birds sweep north and fan out across the western states. As the miles and the days fall behind, the great migratory flocks diminish. One by one, the birds reach their nest sites across the western United States and Canada. The business of raising young consumes the summer; by August the task is done, and the birds turn southward. Another exodus of these endurance champions has begun.

Reader's Digest: Book of North American Birds