Swainson’s Hawk’s annual ruling of our Central Valley looking better by the day

April 25th, 2012 · by Garrison Frost

You can talk to some California bird enthusiasts about warblers and shorebirds and swallows in spring migration, but all they really want to hear about are Swainson’s Hawks. And, really, it’s pretty understandable. The Swainson’s is pretty awesome and its migration is unique. It comes all the way from Argentina to breed in habitat throughout the central part of the United States and Mexico — except for one group that comes to California’s Central Valley a little ahead of the rest. These birds are tracked anxiously as they come up through southern California to the Valley. Check out this great video from the folks at eBird that depicts their occurrence in the United States throughout the year (photo by Peter LaTourrette):

These maps from eBird offer another look at their “invasion” of our Central Valley. First, take a look at the map from February of this year showing just a few birds starting to arrive:

Then in March we see things picking up:

And now look at the latest map from April. They own the valley now:

Categories: Birding · Pacific Flyway · Pacific Migration · spring migration

2 Comments so far ↓

  • jcs

    Worried about a hawk getting attacked by 3 crows yesterday in Sacramento. Do not know if it was a Swainson. Eventually it flew away w the crows following.

  • Ed Whsler

    Swainson’s hawks that breed in the Central Valley of California mostly winter on Mexico