(Buteo swainsoni). Patient Number 20-1544.
Date admitted: August 12th, 2020.
Reason for admission: Wing fracture.
Did you know that a Swainson’s hawk will travel up to 20,000 kilometres on its migratory journey to and from Argentina? These hawks are very gregarious and will migrate in kettles (flocks) numbering into the thousands!
These hawks are a common ‘buteo’ in the prairie region, meaning they have broad wings and a relatively short tail. Their colouring can be quite varied but usually they are light-bellied with a dark or reddish-brown chest and brown or grey upper parts. Their wings are lined with white - a stark contrast to the blackish flight feathers. Most males have grey heads and females tend to generally have a brown head.
Swainson’s hawks hunt from the air and sometimes from a perch. Their diet during the breeding season includes mice, voles, small birds, jackrabbits, and ground squirrels – with snakes thrown in the mix, too. They will even chase insects on the ground – insects make up the majority of their diet outside the breeding season – grasshoppers being a favourite food of choice. They also like dragonflies.
This young hawk was found in the middle of the road unable to fly. Thankfully a passerby was able to stop and rescue the hawk and brought him to care at AIWC. Upon examination at AIWC, it was found he was suffering from a fracture in the right wing. Additionally, there was significant damage to his wing feathers which also prevented flight.
He has since recovered from his wing fracture, but will need to undergo a feather moult before he can be released. This species typically shed and regrow new feathers in summer, so we expect he can be returned to the wild in Summer 2021. Thank you for helping us to keep him forever wild!