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Peregrine Falcon and Swainson’s Hawk Migration

We described and contrasted the migration routes, length of migration, and duration of migration of Swainson’s hawks (Buteo swainsoni) and Peregrine Falcons (Falco peregrinus) in the Western Hemisphere. We radio tracked migrants using the Argos satellite system. Our initial samples were 34 Swainson’s Hawks from representative areas of their breeding range, and 61 Peregrine Falcons captured at nest sites across the North America boreal forest and low Arctic or on the migration routes along the mid-Atlantic and Texas Gulf coasts.

A Peregrine falcon radiomarked for satellite telemetry.
Peregrine falcon radiomarked for satellite telemetry

Peregrine Falcons used at least three broad, general routes south from the breeding areas, and individuals have stopped migrating as far north as the U.S.A. mid-Atlantic coast and as far south as central Argentina. The radio marked Peregrine Falcons have used coastal routes, mid-continental routes, and water-crossing routes: the Davis Strait and Caribbean Sea. During northward migration, Peregrines radio marked at Padre Island Texas, U.S.A. diverge for destinations from central Alaska, U.S.A. across the continent to west-central Greenland.
(Peregrine Falcon migration map)

In contrast, Swainson’s Hawks converged in eastern Mexico at the coast on the Gulf of Mexico. Southward, these hawks followed a narrow, well-defined path through Central America, across the Andes Mountains in Columbia, and east of the Andes to central Argentina where they all spent the austral summer. Swainson’s Hawks’ northward migration largely retraced their southward route.

Swainson's Hawk Radiomarked for Satellite Telemetry
Swainson’s Hawk Radiomarked for Satellite Telemetry

(Swainson’s Hawk migration map)

For details, see:

Fuller, M.R., W.S. Seegar, and L.S. Schueck. 1998. Routes and travel rates of migrating Peregrine Falcons Falco peregrinus and Swainson’s Hawks Buteo swainsoni in the Western Hemisphere. J. Avain Biol. 29 433-440. [Fuller, Seegar, Schueck Full Text] *

For additional information about Peregrine Falcon migration see:

Ganusevich, S. A., Maechtle, T. L., Seegar, W. S., Yates, M. A., McGrady, M. J., Fuller, M., Schueck, L., Dayton, J., Henny, C. J. 2004. Autumn migration and wintering areas of Peregrine Falcons (Falco peregrinus) nesting on the Kola Peninsula, northern Russia. Ibis 146: 291-297.

Henny, C.J., W.S. Seegar, M.A. Yates, T.L. Maechtle, S.A. Ganusevich, and M.R. Fuller. 2000. Contaminants and wintering areas of Peregrine Falcons, Falco peregrinus, from the Kola Peninsula, Russia. Pages 871- 878 in R.D. Chancellor and B.-U. Meyburg, eds. Raptors at risk. Hancock House.

McGrady, M. J., T. L. Maechtle, J. J. Vargas, W. S. Seegar, C. Porras Peña, 2002. Movements of Peregrine Falcons Falco peregrinus wintering on the Gulf Coast of Mexico 1996-1998. Condor 104: 39-48.