This mapped graphical visualization of six Swainson’s Hawks from Data is Beautiful caught my attention.
Swainson’s hawk is probably the longest migrant of any North American raptor. The flight from breeding ground to South American pampas in southern Brazil or Argentina can be as long as 14,000 miles. Each migration can last at least two months.
They leave the breeding grounds from August to October. Fall migration begins each clear day on which a wind blows in the general direction of travel. Birds gain altitude by soaring in circles on a rising thermal and then set their wings and close their tails as they glide, slowly losing altitude until they find another thermal and rise with it.
Nobody’s perfect; small populations winter in southeastern Florida and along the Texas coast, probably having failed to find the way south around the Gulf of Mexico.
Here’s what this world traveler looks like up close. I hope to see one in real life one day, and might travel to the Isthmus of Panama, where they funnel through around September.