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R code and data for running models in "Rapid Growth of the Swainson’s Hawk Population in California since 2005"

Cite this dataset

Furnas, Brett (2022). R code and data for running models in "Rapid Growth of the Swainson’s Hawk Population in California since 2005" [Dataset]. Dryad.


By 1979 Swainson’s Hawks (Buteo swainsoni) had declined to as low as 375 breeding pairs throughout their summer range in California. Shortly thereafter the species was listed as threatened in the state. To evaluate the hawk’s population trend since then, we analyzed data from 1,038 locations surveyed throughout California in either 2005, 2006, 2016, or 2018. We estimated a total statewide population of 18,810 breeding pairs (95CI: 11,353–37,228) in 2018, and found that alfalfa (Medicago sativa, lucerne) cultivation, agricultural crop diversity, and the occurrence of non-agricultural trees for nesting were positively associated with hawk density. We also concluded that California’s Swainson’s Hawk summering population grew rapidly between 2005 and 2018 at a rate of 13.9% per year (95CI: 7.8–19.2%). Despite strong evidence that the species has rebounded overall in California, Swainson’s Hawks remain largely extirpated from Southern California where they were historically common. Further, we note that the increase in Swainson’s Hawks has been coincident with expanded orchard and vineyard cultivation which is not considered suitable for nesting. Therefore, we recommend more frequent, improved surveys to monitor the stability of the species’ potential recovery and to better understand the causes. Our results are consistent with increasing raptor populations in North America and Europe that contrast with overall global declines, especially in the tropics.


The data includes visual encounter survey results for Swainson's Hawks conducted throughout California in 2005, 2006, 2016, and 2018.  The data also include biophysical covararites at survey sites and an extrapolation grid for using model-based inference to estimate annual population sizes and trend.

Usage notes

Commented R code is provided fro accessing the data and running all models used in the published manuscript.