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Nesting Swainson’s Hawk discovered recently in Louisiana

From the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries 

-- The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Natural Heritage Program discovered Louisiana’s first nesting Swainson's hawk on June 9 near Holmwood.

Swainson's hawks are a fairly common breeding raptor in the western U.S., but have only been occurring with regular frequency in Louisiana in the past decade during the breeding and nesting season.  

"We found an active Swainson's hawk nest with at least one medium sized chick inside, which irrefutably confirms nesting and breeding is taking place in Louisiana for the first time on record," said LDWF Ornithologist Michael Seymour. 

"This nest represents the first Swainson's hawk nest found in Louisiana with young.  Repeated sightings of birds during this season suggest there may be several more nesting pairs in our state, with most nesting south of I-10 and west of Lafayette."

Readily identifiable by their immaculate white underwings with dark flight feathers, the long winged Swainson’s hawks only share open country in Southwest Louisiana with the more common red-tailed hawk, which also lacks the Swainson’s hawk’s dark chest band.  After breeding season, Swainson’s hawks may congregate in large migrating flocks called kettles in the fall as they make their way to their primary wintering grounds in South America.

LSU Museum of Natural Science's Donna Dittmann and Steve Cardiff found an active Swainson's hawk nest in Louisiana in 2007.  However, this nest was later found abandoned without producing young.

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