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Swainson’s Hawk

Return of the Argentinians

Yesterday I had my first sighting of these summer-time residents this season. This female Swainson’s Hawk was hanging out alongside a busy road north of Denver International Airport.

These beautiful raptors are found across the American West during the summer months. They arrive in such numbers that they become almost more common than the ubiquitous Red Tailed Hawk. It is here that they will mate and have young before heading south to Argentina for the winter.

A female Swainson's Hawk shows off soon after arriving for the season on the Colorado plains. (© Tony’s Takes)

A female Swainson’s Hawk shows off soon after arriving for the season on the Colorado plains. (© Tony’s Takes)

Swainson’s Hawk keeps watch

This beautiful lady was watching the happenings around her closely, no doubt hoping to find some hapless rodent she could snatch up for a meal. It won’t be long now and her and her family will be heading south to their winter home in Argentina. It certainly will be warmer there than the Colorado plains come December and January. 😉

A female Swainson's Hawk keeps watch in Adams County, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A female Swainson’s Hawk keeps watch in Adams County, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Young Swainson’s Hawk poses for pictures

I went for a quick photo drive after work Thursday and only found one photo worthy subject. It however was a very handsome juvenile Swainson’s Hawk. These young ones have some very cool coloring and just have an extraordinary look to them. It will be growing fast as it gets ready for its long migration to Argentina for the winter.

A juvenile Swainson's Hawk keeps watch from a utility pole in Adams County, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A juvenile Swainson’s Hawk keeps watch from a utility pole in Adams County, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Swainson’s Hawk under siege

All this female Swainson’s Hawk wanted to do was take in the sunrise and enjoy a quiet morning. A Western Kingbird whose nest was nearby, did not care to have company however. Here, the hawk moves to a different perch, all the while being dive-bombed by the little bird. Kingbirds may be little but they can be quite aggressive and have no fear of hawks or eagles.

A Western Kingbird attacks a Swainson's Hawk in Adams County, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Western Kingbird attacks a Swainson’s Hawk in Adams County, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Female Swainson’s Hawk takes flight in the early morning sun

My weekend camping trip didn’t really bring much extraordinary in the way of wildlife. That’s okay as it was a great one to just disconnect and spend some time with my family.

This capture is from last weekend in Adams County, Colorado. The beautiful lady was hanging out near her nest watching traffic roll by but being pestered by a number of smaller birds. She finally took flight giving me an absolutely beautiful flyby.

A female Swainson's Hawk takes flight on the Colorado plains.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A female Swainson’s Hawk takes flight on the Colorado plains. (© Tony’s Takes)

Swainson’s Hawk launches, keeps close eye on the photographer

I haven’t really gotten my usual fill of pictures of these summertime residents of Colorado. The last couple of weekends though gave me a few opportunities, including some captures of this beautiful female. She was perched on a fence post in rural Morgan County and tolerated me – but only briefly. I managed a few quick captures as she took flight.

A female Swainson's Hawk takes flight in Morgan County, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A female Swainson’s Hawk takes flight in Morgan County, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Young Swainson’s Hawk poses for pictures

When I first spotted this raptor yesterday in Morgan County, Colorado, I wasn’t entirely sure what it was. Certainly it was the size of a hawk but the light coloring threw me off a bit. I have seen juvenile Swainson’s Hawks before, but never one of the light morph variety like this one. It was kind of fun to find something a bit different. He / she was definitely beautiful.

A juvenile Swainson's Hawk keeps watch on the Colorado plains.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A juvenile Swainson’s Hawk keeps watch on the Colorado plains. (© Tony’s Takes)

Swainson’s Hawk weathers Colorado’s spring snowstorm

Taken last weekend as the Centennial State was getting pounded by a significant storm. This poor hawk was undoubtedly wishing it had stayed in Argentina for a couple more weeks. It was perched in a tree northeast of Denver and had ice on its head, chest and tail feathers. No doubt it wasn’t much fun for the creature.

A Swainson's Hawk weather a spring snowstorm in Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Swainson’s Hawk weather a spring snowstorm in Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Swainson’s Hawk stretches out after a long flight

Having just arrived from Argentina, this gorgeous raptor was likely a bit tired. Okay, it actually arrived a week or two ago but that is a long flight and you sure would think it would take a while to recover. 😉

On my quick drive yesterday I came across this Swainson’s on a pole and like many of its species, was completely tolerant of me. In fact, it seemed pretty bemused with and even a little bit bored by my interest in it, largely ignoring me. Here it stretches and gives me a very cool pose. Take note of those talons. Very impressive!

A Swainson's Hawk stretches while perched on a pole. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Swainson’s Hawk stretches while perched on a pole. (© Tony’s Takes)

The Argentinians return

Swainson’s Hawks have one of the longest known migrations of any raptor. After wintering in Argentina, they spend their summers on the Great Plains where they mate before heading south again.

On Friday I saw my first Swainson’s of the season and she was not a very pleasant one. In fact, she was dive-bombing a Great Horned Owl nest which of course made the female owl very upset as her little ones had just hatched. Unfortunately I failed to capture the hawk and the nest in the same frame of any of my pictures. 🙁

In this series though, you can see the hawk swoop in and take a swipe at the nest below.  Scroll down to view the entire sequence.

Taken in Thornton, Colorado.

A Swainson's Hawk extends its legs and prepares to take a swipe at a Great Horned Owl nest in Thornton, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Swainson’s Hawk extends its legs and prepares to take a swipe at a Great Horned Owl nest in Thornton, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)