The Swainson's Hawk

Yesterday I spotted this hawk alight in an old pine tree on the street behind our house. This picture taken with my little photo lens turned out quite well, considering my shaky puddin'. TH (the hubby) thought the tree reached about 30 feet, but I think it was taller.

I couldn't identify the raptor - so I sent the photo by E-mail to my Audubon friend.

He and his wife happily informed us that it is a Swainson's Hawk. This bird winters in Argentina and, after one of the longest migrations of all hawks, summers in the central and northwest United States and Canada.

Apparently there are several mating pairs that are nesting in our valley. This one must have stopped to rest during his search for a meal.

This hawk is endangered because of loss of habitat in the United States, and because of DDT usage in South America. I read that the population had decreased by 90% in Central California alone.

What a coincidence to see an article in the local AGRI-TIMES today pointing to Wind Farms as another serious problem for the low flying hawks. My Audubon contact said "The blades turn at over 100 miles per hour" and that the "hawks get confused" and think they can fly through them. The good news is that some Wind companies are monitoring and studying ways to minimize bird and bat kills.

Isn't that just Murphy's Law? We find a clean source of energy, then fear that it may be lethal to the feathered friends. The noise generated by the turbines may also disturb the ground nesting birds. (see the Killdeer in an earlier post.)

Wind Farms silhouette the hilltops around my valley. I pray that my hawk stays close in and rears a healthy brood.

I'm will watch for him/her through the remaining spring and summer.


theotherbear said…
I'd never thought of that aspect of wind farms. Gorgeous bird, huh!
Willowtree said…
I love raptors, they're my kind of bird.
Peter said…
Hi Pamela, who'd a thought those blades were going so fast, they appear to be travelling in slow motion but I guess out at the tips they are hootin' around.
BTW, I see no similarity to a monkey in either of the "sensible" photos.
Elizabeth Joy said…

We just saw two of those at our place yesterday. I didn't know which hawk they were, but now I know. It appeared to be a pair, and I really hope they are staying. They were swooping around, landing on telephone poles right by me. I could see them really clearly, but didn't have a camera in my hand, in order to save it from the garden dirt I was digging around in.

Elizabeth Joy
mjd said…
Your hawk picture is beautiful. How sad that when we humans try to something good, that there are frequently drawbacks of some kind.
Susie said…
Very interesting post. I don't believe I've ever seen a hawk like that, they may not get this far south. We have loads of those wind farms near us too.
Karmyn R said…
We're damned if we do, damned if we don't.
Devon said…
Reminds me of the old proverb:
"Nothing is entirely good or entirely evil"
Shelby said…
Gorgeous hawk! I really love beautiful grand birds. Take care:)
Nice shot of the hawk. I never seem to have my camera in hand when I see birds "posing".
Kailani said…
We have a huge wind farm on Maui and I've always wondered how it affects nature. I hope the hawk stays close to your home so you can keep an eye on it.

An Island Life
ChrisB said…
That's a really good photo I hadn't thought about the effect of wind farms on the bird population; there's always a downside.
Rob J. said…
Beautiful animal. It almost looks like that perch was placed there for her.

I try to be an optimist. It's not all bad news regarding wind turbines. Efforts are being made to improve them. The newer turbines are significantly quieter than the old ones, they are more efficient so don't need to rotate as fast to generate the same amount of electricity and lots of organizations are pressuring manufacturers and power companies to resolve the collisions issue.

If people care enough, we can make a change for the better. Read some of the historic accounts of the air pollution in urban centers when coal was the only source of heat and power or before sewers and waste treatment plants existed. I'm glad I'm living in NYC now and not in the mid-1800's!

We're progessing, just not as fast as we'd like to (or could).
angel said…
what a brilliant creature to see! not only to see, but to photograph as well! you live in a truly beautiful place pamela...

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