Long-distance flappers seen in San Gabriel Valley

Often confused with immature red-tailed hawks, Swainson’s hawks are, on the surface, typical looking run-of-the-mill hawks.  But don’t let looks fool you. These are top flappers in Birdland. As the world’s long-distance migratory raptors, Swainson’s hawks rack up more than 12,400 miles round trip each year traveling from North to South America.

This week, folks in the Pasadena and Arcadia area noticed flocks of 60 Swainson’s hawks flying overhead; a representative from the Los Angeles County Arboretum described on Facebook an encounter with 15 of the stately birds on the grounds.

Jon Fisher of the Audubon Society Rare Bird Alert tells us that:

“While rare outside of migration, Swainson’s Hawks are fairly common (and increasing) transients through our area…There have been other reports of single birds or small groups passing through since very late in January.  I don’t have an exact count, but reports to date are well over 100 birds.”