Swainson’s Hawk

I drove up to Palo Duro Reservoir this morning.  It’s a small man-made lake in Hansford County about an hour from my house that has great birding.  It’s fairly shallow and has a lot a dead cottonwood trees sticking up out of the water.  There always seems to be lots of Double-crested Cormorants and Turkey Vultures around as well as Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, Blue-winged Teals, an occasional Belted Kingfisher, Red-winged Blackbirds and Great Blue Herons.  I’ve not been up there except for the summer months and I’m looking forward to seeing what shows up there this winter.  It’s small enough that I should be able to get good shots of the waterfowl no matter where they are on the lake.

The real treat today, though, was on the way back home.  I drove by a freshly mowed hay pasture and there was a dozen or more hawks hunting it.  Most of them were Swainson’s Hawks but there was one Red-tailed Hawk and a couple that might have been Northern Harriers, they never got close enough to get good photos.  Red-tailed Hawks can be found year round in the panhandle.  The Harriers are more of a winter visitor, but just a little bit north of us, in Oklahoma, they are considered year round inhabitants.  The Swainson’s Hawks are summer visitors so it was kind of cool to see them all in the same place.

Swainson’s Hawks, like a lot of hawks, have different color variations  This one is a light morph.swainsons-hawk-4-1280x892

I think this one is a juvenile intermediate morph.swainsons-hawk-13-1280x817

Here is a dark morphswainsons-hawk-28-1280x806

A few more photos

swainsons-hawk-6-1280x854

swainsons-hawk-25-1280x841

 

For more photos of Swainson’s Hawks, as well as Red-tailed Hawks, Turkey Vultures, Bald Eagles, American Kestrels, Merlins, Mississippi Kites and Northern Harriers, check out the Gallery.

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