Coastal migrant Swainson’s Hawk

[All photographs copyright, Gary Nunn 2012] – While searching for migrant buntings at the Tijuana River Valley Community Garden, just off Hollister St. and Sunset Ave., a shout came from Paul Lehman a few allotments behind me and he pointed out a juvenile Swainson’s Hawk Buteo swainsoni headed my way. Nicely done! It was about 8:45 AM, the morning had really begun warming up, and the hawk was quartering around buoyantly, in typical dihedral manner, and was headed south towards me at low elevation.

The Swainson’s Hawk came flying over the weed field west of the community garden where it was set upon by a horde of American Crow, some more daring than others! Lucky for me the harassment party steered it away from the riparian areas, right on cue, and back directly over my head toward more open country to the east.

Swainson’s Hawk is a rare fall migrant with perhaps only one or two recorded each year here in San Diego County along the coastal belt. There are however growing numbers that now stage in the east county Borrego Valley on spring migration, lifting off there in the mornings to continue migration to northern grasslands. By all accounts a notable sighting here in the Tijuana River Valley.

6 thoughts on “Coastal migrant Swainson’s Hawk

  1. I believe have seen one of these birds for the last couple days sitting on the light post mid span of Ingraham bridge just north of the I-8 off ramp. I had never seen a bird like it in the area so it had caught my eye. Not 100% about it being this type of hawk but am sure its not a red tail.

  2. I saw this bird this evening around 6pm on that same Ingraham bridge. Good to know it is migratory, because I can go long periods of time without seeing it.

  3. Saw a Swainson’s hawk near Frog’s Athletic Club on El Camino Real in Encinitas. @ ~ 1:00pm on 5/7/2014 over a patch of CSS. It was being mobbed by 10-15 crows.

  4. I am interested in your photo of a Juvenile Swainson’s Hawk Img 1661 for a Book about Raptors
    that i will print this year.I was President of Audubon Venezuela 2008-2010 and in 2012 i edited
    the book Rapaces de Venezuela.I will give tou credit and send you abook when ready

    • Hi Alberto,

      Sorry about the late response. If you still need the photo of the Swainson’s Hawk for your book please go ahead and use it, with credit in the caption. Thanks for contacting me! Gary Nunn.

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