Swainson’s Hawk (Buteo swainsoni)

The Swainson’s Hawk is one of the four main species that passes through Costa Rica during the fall migration towards the south, when about 3 million individuals soar above Reserva Indígena Kekoldi. During the migration, size can help identify it, as the Swainson’s is smaller than the Turkey Vulture, but bigger than the Broad-winged Hawk and the Peregrine Falcon. The Peregrine Falcon is also much less numerous and usually soars by consistently flapping its wings and as a result, flies a lot faster. Instead the Swainson’s will raise through thermal currents called Vortices, and then glide for kilometers before finding the next thermal current. Also the Swainson’s has three different morphs: Pale, intermediate and dark.

The Swainson’s is a passage migrant, meaning that most (if not all) individuals only pass through the country but do not stay during winter; a lot of the Broad-winged Hawks do remain in the country for winter. Most Swainson’s final destination is the Patagonia, one of the longest migrations considering that some of them may be traveling all the way from Canada or Alaska.

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A Pale Morph Juvenile flying by early in the morning. The sun was barely over the horizon, illuminating with warm light the bird from below.

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