SWAINSON’S HAWK: A UNIQUE VISITOR TO ABACO, BAHAMAS
Abaco has 6 accipiter species (hawks, eagles and kites) recorded: Swallow-tailed Kite TR 4, Bald Eagle V4, Northern Harrier WR 3, Sharp-shinned Hawk WR 4, Red-tailed Hawk PR B 1 and Swainson’s Hawk Buteo swainsoni V5.The Red-tail is a familiar permanent resident; the Harrier and Sharp-shinned hawk are uncommonly recorded winter residents; the Kites are occasionally seen passing through on their migratory path; the Bald Eagle has been reported on only a handful of occasions; and the Swainson’s Hawk has been seen (or anyway recognised) precisely once. One glance at its migration route shows why…
This fine raptor is definitely not worth travelling to Abaco in the hope of encountering. Managing to find one, identify it and photograph it, is a considerable achievement. Well-known Bahamas bird authority Bruce Hallett not only did so, but got great pictures of this juvenile bird both in flight and perched. No other sighting is recorded for Abaco; and few if any have ever been seen in the Bahamas generally.
WHO WAS MR SWAINSON?
Swainson was one of the early ornithologists – along with men such as Wilson, Cory, Kirtland and La Sagra – whose name is now inextricably bound to the birds they became associated with. Swainson is the ‘owner’ of 3 bird species recorded for Abaco: a hawk, a thrush and a warbler. I have previously written about him and these birds, so to find out more about him clickSWAINSON.
WHAT DO THESE BIRDS SOUND LIKE?
WHAT DO THEY LOOK LIKE IN FLIGHT?
A ringed Swainson’s Hawk in its more familiar territory – Colorado
Credits: Photos, Bruce Hallett, Wiki (last); Migration Map, open source; videos, as shown
WILLIAM SWAINSON, ORNITHOLOGIST: 224 YEARS OLD TODAY
Happy Birthday, William Swainson, 224 years old today, honoured with a Google emblem, and… oh, sorry, we’ve run out of tiny candles for your cake…
Swainson (1789 – 1855) was an English ornithologist, entomologist, conchologist, natural historian, and a gifted illustrator of the natural world. He was a pioneer of the new lithographic technology, which enabled quicker reproduction of his work than engraving.
Moluccan King Parrot from Zoological Illustrations
Swainson lent his name to a number of avian species, three of which may be found on Abaco. These are the Swainson’s Hawk, Thrush and Warbler. The hawk is a rare visitor; the thrush is a transient, passing through the Bahamas during migration; and the warbler is a hard-to-find winter resident. Here are the three species, courtesy of AUDUBON.ORGand for each, an illustrative video.