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Swainson's Hawk food

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  • cerdc32
    Hi all, we have a pair of Swainson s Hawks nesting in a fir tree a few streets away, but in the city. On the other side of our street is country that has lots
    Message 1 of 4 , Jun 5, 2011
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      Hi all, we have a pair of Swainson's Hawks nesting in a fir tree a few streets away, but in the city. On the other side of our street is country that has lots of gophers. I was telling a neighbour that once they have little ones the gopher population should go down. He told me they never eat gophers. Not being one to admit I am wrong, I kept my mouth shut and am asking the experts. Thanks
      Donna
    • Jack Monteith
      Never say never, but I spent a lot of my youth sitting on a cab-less and radio-less tractor. The best entertainment was watching the hawks. Redtails would
      Message 2 of 4 , Jun 5, 2011
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        Never say never, but I spent a lot of my youth sitting on a cab-less and radio-less tractor. The best entertainment was watching the hawks. Redtails would tackle gophers and even young Jackrabbits, but I can't say I ever saw a Swainson's take anything larger than a mouse.
      • zedbander
        According to the Birds of North America, Richardson s Ground Squirrels are the main prey item of Swainson s Hawks during the five months they visit the
        Message 3 of 4 , Jun 5, 2011
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          According to the Birds of North America, Richardson's Ground Squirrels are the main prey item of Swainson's Hawks during the five months they visit the northern Great Plains.

          I visited 41 SWHA nests last year, in late July and early August. Twenty-four of the nests contained no food, not surprising as the young hawks are ravenous at that point with starvation a real threat. More Swainson's Hawk chicks starve than Red-tailed or Ferruginous Hawk chicks, in part because the "gophers" have mainly gone underground in July, and aren't as readily available to the Swainson's Hawks as they are to the Ferruginous and Red-tailed Hawks, which fledge their chicks mainly in June. However, of the 17 Swainson's Hawk nests that did have prey items in them, ten nests contained one or more Richardson's Ground Squirrels.

          In which city do you have Swainson's Hawks, Donna?


          Dan
          Matador, Sk.

          --- In Saskbirds@yahoogroups.com, "cerdc32" <donnacork@...> wrote:
          >
          > Hi all, we have a pair of Swainson's Hawks nesting in a fir tree a few streets away, but in the city. On the other side of our street is country that has lots of gophers. I was telling a neighbour that once they have little ones the gopher population should go down. He told me they never eat gophers. Not being one to admit I am wrong, I kept my mouth shut and am asking the experts. Thanks
          > Donna
          >
        • Kevin
          Years ago at a Prairie Habitat conference a guy from AB gave a presentation on Swainson s Hawks. He said that the single major food item were gophers
          Message 4 of 4 , Jun 13, 2011
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            Years ago at a Prairie Habitat conference a guy from AB gave a presentation on Swainson's Hawks. He said that the single major food item were gophers (Richardson's ground squirrels). And while we think the latter are everywhere - they aren't. Gophers have fairly particular habitat requirements which includes grass of certain height etc. - which of course includes the type of human made habitat along highways thus we see them where ever we drive and think they are everywhere. But if you look back beyond the highway border - you'll often see the gophers don't extend. Thus Swainson Hawks also have a distinctive range. His study was to identify gopher habitat, identify how to identify it using Landsat satellite imagery and then map that habitat. Then go into the field and look for Swainson's hawks. Overall it worked well. There are always some mis-interpretation of habitat from satelitte imagery.

            BTW another guy did the same thing with Short Horned Lizards in SW AB too.

            Kevin in Lumsden

            --- In Saskbirds@yahoogroups.com, "cerdc32" <donnacork@...> wrote:
            >
            > Hi all, we have a pair of Swainson's Hawks nesting in a fir tree a few streets away, but in the city. On the other side of our street is country that has lots of gophers. I was telling a neighbour that once they have little ones the gopher population should go down. He told me they never eat gophers. Not being one to admit I am wrong, I kept my mouth shut and am asking the experts. Thanks
            > Donna
            >
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