Hawks Aloft Inc.
PO Box 10028
Albuquerque, NM 87184
Phone: 505 828-9455
Fax: 505 828-9769
E-Mail: gail@hawksaloft.org

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Hawks Aloft Blog

Fall Raptor Migration is in Full Swing

We’ve been getting calls this week about large flocks of hawks soaring overhead over the river, the bosque and the Middle Rio Grande valley. They are Swainson’s Hawks that migrate in large groups called ‘kettles’. They have the longest migration of any North American hawk, traveling all the way to Argentina, where they are called Locust Hawks.

Juvenile Swainson's Hawk, photo by David Powell

Juvenile Swainson’s Hawk, photo by David Powell

Their bodies are streamlined and they have long, slim wings — a bird built for long-distance flight.   Juvenile Swainson’s Hawks leave on migration before their parents. Traveling in large kettles helps young ones learn the way. By the time they reach Central America, as many as 100,000 have been seen soaring together at one time.

Kettle of Swainson's Hawk.  Photo be Georgia Santa-Maria.

Kettle of Swainson’s Hawk. Photo be Georgia Santa-Maria.

Swainson’s Hawk are distinctive. They are the only N.A. hawk that has dark flight feathers and a light leading edge to the wing. Watch for them soaring high above the Middle Rio Grande Valley this week, and also in eastern New Mexico, and Texas. Their migration will take up to two months each way.  It’s a 7,000 mile, one-way journey.

Adult Swainson's Hawks soar together.  Photo be Georgia Santa-Maria

Adult Swainson’s Hawks soar together. Photo be Georgia Santa-Maria

Keep an eye out for many raptors soaring overehead, on their way south to their wintering grounds.

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