The Swainson’s Hawk now residing in the Corrales Bosque Preserve was finally satisfied with tree-top real estate conditions here. As reported in a front-page article and photograph in May 9 issue, a Swainson’s Hawk has been documented as having nested in the Corrales bosque. Hawks Aloft Director Gail Garber said May 1 that “the most exciting thing just happened today: a large nest we have been watching for years now has a Swainson’s Hawk.
“That is the first documented Swainson’s Hawk that we’ve found in the Corrales Bosque. I’m super-excited about this.” It was spotted by Joan Hashimoto, a long-time Hawks Aloft collaborator. It is much larger than the more common Cooper’s Hawk. At least one other Corrales birder has captured excellent photos of Swainson’s Hawks here previously.
“I’ve never recognized a Swainson’s nest in the bosque, but I’ve seen the hawks every year multiple times since 2016,” Guy Clark told Corrales Comment May 17 after seeing the May 9 article and photo. He finds them to be beautiful birds. “Red Tailed Hawks have a fierce-looking face, but Swainson’s have beautiful faces.” The large raptor Garber and Hashimoto saw has taken over a long-vacant, deteriorating nest at the top of a tree close to the levee. In weeks before, they had noticed that new sticks had been added to the old nest, so they were expecting a new occupant.
It’s at the top of a tall cottonwood where it likely will be invisible from the ground once the tree is fully leafed out, Garber said. She had suspected larger hawks might be visiting the preserve here, but could never determine which. “The reason, I think, is that the nests are so well hidden in the tops of the trees.”
This year, the new hawk was spotted in the improved nest before the cottonwoods had fully leafed out. Garber said the Swainson’s Hawk spends part of the year in Argentina, some 6,000 miles away, migrating round trip every year. Among raptors, Swainson’s are among the last to arrive in New Mexico in the spring, Garber added.
“During the spring, they feed their young the same things the other raptors feed theirs. They eat lizards, snakes and other birds and small mammals and things like that. But when the grasshoppers bloom in the summer, they switch their diet to almost exclusively grasshoppers. So their nests are generally adjacent to open fields because that’s where they would find the insects they would normally eat. In the fall, when the grasshoppers die, they migrate back to Argentina, leaving here by September.”