Species: Swainson’s Hawk Buteo swainsoni

Date of Sighting: 20 April 2003
County : CENTRE
Location : TUSSEY MOUNTAIN HAWKWATCH 40.7108 N, 77.9047 W
Observer(s): Mike Lanzone et al
Date of Submission: 2011
Submitted by: Ben Coulter
Written Description: added for 2nd round Photo: Yes Specimen: No Recording: No


Notes from the observers

Location- Tussey Mountain Hawkwatch Centre/Huntingdon Counties
Observers- Mike Lanzone, Dan Ombalski, Trish Miller, et.al.
I first spotted this bird in a glide with several Broad-winged Hawks during the afternoon approximately 3pm. It was gliding off a thermal and was easily identified at that time as a Swainson’s Hawk, with its slightly bowed wings and characteristic shape. It glided to the east of us and started to thermal up on just east side of the watch providing nice views. This bird was far, but easily identifiable binoculars and scope as an adult light morph. The birds dark flight feathers contrasted with the lighter under-wing, chocolaty breast. Its characteristic long narrow wings, straight leading edge, narrow hands and secondary bulge (which gives SWHAs their diagnostic shape) were all visible. The picture provided was taken with a 300mm lens and is scaled at 100% due to the distance, however was a little fuzzy, however all field marks are clearly visible and not cannot be confused with any other species. I have a lot of experience with Swainson’s Hawk, having observed over 3 million, some of which when I was a counter in Veracruz, MX.
Mike Lanzone


Below are the comments submitted during the first round of voting. We have opened the comments so you can discuss your thoughts with the other committee members before your second round of voting.


First Round Votes (5 I-P/2 IV-A)

  1. Al Guarente – Class I-P – Comments: Accepted with Photo
  2. Ben Coulter – Class I-P
  3. Dave DeReamus – Class I-P – Comments: I agree with this identification.
  4. Geoff Malosh – Class I-P – Comments: The photo is about as marginal as you can get, yet still be acceptable. The typical pale underwing coverts, contrasting with darker flight feathers, are easily visible. I can also make out the hint of what appears to be a dark tail possibly showing a terminal band. It is tempting to not accept this record since Swainson’s Hawk is not the only species that shows these characters (Osprey comes to mind, along with a few other considerably more unlikely species) but the overall shape of the bird is wrong for Osprey, and the flight feathers appear to be evenly dark throughout, very much like a light adult Swainson’s. Written support for this photo would greatly enhance the record.
  5. Drew Weber – Class I-P – Comments: Photo conclusive for Swainson’s Hawk
  6. Tom Johnson – Class IV-A – Comments: The photo isn’t detailed enough to support this ID without further photos or a written description of any kind.
  7. Ramsay Koury – Class IV-A – If there is more info for this sighting please send it to me, otherwise my vote is no for this sighting as I can’t be sure of the ID from that picture.