(April 18, 2019) Discovery of the year: Swainson’s hawk nest found in a Conservancy-planted tree complex!

In 2003, the Conservancy planted 30 cottonwood trees on one of its interior Natomas Basin preserves, hoping that at least 15 would survive and end up being Swainson’s hawk nesting trees.

We planted the trees in a cluster so that any Swainson’s hawks that nested in them would have a 360-degree view of their surroundings, something the experts told us was important. The goal was to have the 15 or more surviving trees mature enough for nesting in 20 years, and used for nesting purposes soon after.

Here we are 16 years later. Two dozen of the trees survive, exceeding expectations, and most importantly, Swainson’s hawk experts now advise that we have an active nest this year. Management and staff at the Conservancy are doing a proverbial “happy dance” over this development. It is proof that planting trees, the appropriate trees for the Swainson’s hawk and for the specific soil type, is important. So is the annual care of the trees as is a good deal of patience.

As later classes of Conservancy-planted trees mature elsewhere in the Natomas Basin, we are hopeful that they too will provide nesting opportunities for this NBHCP Covered Species.  Now we have proof that thoughtful planting and care of trees can make a positive difference.