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Swainson's Hawks are broad-winged Buteos of between 48 and 56 cm in length with females slightly larger than males. Males and females have similar plumage. Swainson's Hawks are polymorphic with pale, light and intermediate morph plumage ranging from dark to light or rufous in color. Most Swainson's Hawks have a sharp contrast between the wing linings and flight feathers. However, some of the darkest Swainson's Hawks do not have this distinction. Swainson's Hawks are distinguishable from other Buteos by their more narrow body and wings, but are still often confused with Broad-winged, White-tailed and Short-tailed Hawks (Bechard et al. 2010).


  • Bechard, Marc J., C. Stuart Houston, Jose H. Sarasola and A. Sidney England. 2010. Swainson's Hawk (Buteo swainsoni), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/265
  • Goodrich, L.J., and J.P. Smith. 2008. Raptor migration in North America. Pp. 37-149 in K.L. Bildstein, J.P. Smith, E. Ruelas Inzunza, and R.R. Veit (eds.), State of North America's birds of prey Nuttall Ornithological Club, Cambridge, MA, and American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C
  • Wheeler, B.K., C.M. White and J.M. Economidy. 2003. Raptors of Western North America: The Wheeler Guide.

Scientific Name

Buteo swainsoni
Common Name
Swainson's Hawk
FWS Category

Location in Taxonomic Tree

Identification Numbers



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