Have you ever wished you could spend your summer in the Tetons and then head down to South America for the fall and winter? If you answered yes, you might wish you were a Swainson’s Hawk. These migratory birds travel distances over 12,000 miles roundtrip during their migration. Having these unique birds in the area is extraordinary due to their limited presence in the region roughly 20 years ago. Scientists speculate that these hawks continue to expand their range northward each year due to rising global temperatures.
This year, Teton Raptor Center’s rehabilitation clinic admitted a total of 19 Swainson’s Hawks from Wyoming and Idaho. The first Swainson’s Hawk that was admitted to the clinic this year was a second-year bird on April 25th. After that date, more Swainson’s Hawks made their way into the valley for their breeding season and into our clinic. The last of this species we’ve seen this year, was admitted on September 23rd.
The busiest month for Swainson’s hawks occurred in August when a whopping 15 birds came in. While these birds are being treated for various injuries and illnesses in the rehab clinic, they face the added pressure of a deadline for release so that they can be back in the wild in time to make their way down south for the winter. This fall, TRC did back-to-back releases of eight Swainson’s Hawks to begin their long awaited journey to warmer weather. For some of these birds it will be the first migration of their life.