Why is it that I often see really interesting things while driving, when I can't easily stop in time to get a good look?
I was driving the other day and caught a glimpse of two Swainson's hawks grappling and falling toward the ground. They broke apart and flew away just before reaching the ground. Neither appeared to be injured. Could it have been two birds establishing territory for nesting or was this some mating ritual?
I pulled up Birds of North America online, my usual source of information on all things about birds (especially relating to ID and behavior.) I did not find a reference to this specific behavior. The mating behavior described was not specifically as seen--that doesn't mean this wasn't what I saw. By the same token, Swainson's are not especially territorial, except immediately around a nest and then primarily against red-tailed hawks, not one another.
It's interesting to note that the Cornell All About Birds shows that Swainson's don't winter in our area--just another example that birds don't read the range maps. They are not in The Birds of North Central Texas checklist as common in the winter, but I have been seeing them fairly regularly the last couple of years--another bird changing its range?
Another mystery; another reason birding is always so interesting.