Swainson's Hawk - A story of fate
Of all the visitors to our backyard, I find the visits from the Raptors to be the most exciting. We have had Sharp-shinned, Coopers, a magnificent Zone-tailed and now a pair of Swainson's. For the past few weeks, a pair, I assume male and female, have stopped by almost daily to survey the yard from atop a dead Agave plant and then drop down into the pond for a drink. Usually, I am in the house and cannot get a good shot. Today I was outside in my normal morning viewing chair when all the rest of the birds scattered and this lone male (I think) flew in. My camera was ready and I shot away.
Swainson's are primarily insectivores, favoring dragonflies and grasshoppers, and reptile eaters. Only when feeding young during the breeding season to they switch to the three R's - reptiles, and rodents. So long as they don't go after my baby scaled-quail I am happy with them visiting.
Here is another from today's visit by our resident, female, Swainson's Hawk. Last August, when we first visited the Sierra Vista area, I pined to see this majestic hawk. The week went by and still no sighting. On our last day, as we drove down Highway 92, the main road through the area, we spied a Swainson's high up on a light pole of a cross street. Typically I would have just turned down the street to see it, but I was already halfway through the intersection. Undaunted, I quickly slammed the wheel right sending my new bride, and our two birding friends, flying. The maneuver also sent the Hawk flying as well. With my passengers questioning if I had lost my mind, I began the chase and finally got a good look and a poor photo when it landed on another light pole. I could not have been more excited. My wife and friends could not have been more shook up - but they know me and would expect nothing less. We laugh about it today.
We moved to the area three months later, not because of the Hawk, but it and the other birds were a major contributing factor. To have this buteo making regular visits to our home is a blessing of eternal proportion. We made the right move.
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