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GAP Analysis Predicted Distribution Map

Swainson's Hawk (Buteo swainsoni)

Species Code: BUSW

Click to enlarge Range map

= Core Habitat
= Marginal Habitat

Breeding Range Map
The green area shows the predicted habitats for breeding only. The habitats were identified using 1991 satellite imagery, Breeding Bird Atlas (BBA), other datasets and experts throughout the state, as part of the Washington Gap Analysis Project. Habitats used during non-breeding months and migratory rest-stops were not mapped.

Metadata (Data about data or how the map was made)

Click to enlarge distribution map

Other maps & Information:
  • Breeding Bird Atlas
  • NatureMapping observations
    during breeding season
  • NatureMapping observations
    throughout the year

This species is common throughout the steppe zones of eastern Washington, except in the southern Okanogan valley roughly between Omak and Tonasket. These Hawks nest in wooded riparian corridors or windbreaks and forages throughout this region in agricultural fields and steppe vegetation. They are found in almost all habitats below the Ponderosa Pine zones except in cities.

The core areas of use were steppe zones within its range limits in the Columbia Basin region. All habitats except forests and development were good.

The Swainson's Hawk is closely tied to open steppe and prairie habitats, and it is seldom seen above the lower treeline in eastern Washington. Its foraging habitat is any open area that supports small rodents, and it only needs a small thicket in which to nest. This combination allows it to thrive throughout eastern Washington. A gap in its distribution is the area in the southern Okanogan valley, where no records of breeding birds are found, apparently due to rockier soils and topography. The Okanogan valley to the south and north of this region has flatter topography and fewer trees. West-side records were undoubtedly migrants. Where it overlaps with the Ferruginous Hawk, the Swainson's Hawk generally nests in higher trees, and utilizes taller trees when available. Foraging habitat differs also, as Swainson's Hawks forage in moister grasslands than Ferruginous Hawks, probably utilizing separate prey bases. In some areas of the state, locust, willow, and Russian Olive are being removed without replacement, causing some concern for this species' future. However, Breeding Birds Survey data for Washington show a significant population increase of 7.3% per year from 1966 to 1991.

Translated from the Washington Gap Analysis Bird Volume by Uchenna Bright
Text edited by Gussie Litwer
Webpage designed by Dave Lester