The photo nearby was taken by County of Sacramento Certified Wildlife Biologist Roger Jones. It’s of a Swainson’s hawk flying above the Conservancy’s Alleghany 50 tract in the Fisherman’s Lake Reserve Area. Roger says, “…it and one other [Swainson’s hawk] were foraging in the Alleghany 50 alfalfa field and spent the day soaring across the area.
This is the farm field that the Conservancy recently converted to alfalfa, a crop favored by Swainson’s hawk for foraging purposes. This conversion was a risk for the Conservancy, because this particular tract is not known to be ideal for getting the kinds of crop yields farmers need to justify planting alfalfa. However, the Conservancy turned the economic tables a bit in working with local farmer Dennis Bastiao. The Conservancy substantially reduced the economic risk for the farmer, and now a Swainson’s hawk friendly crop has existed on the property for the last several years. So, while some of these crop conversion experiments have failed, this one seems to have several years of success behind it. And the best indicator is evidenced by the photo Roger Jones was kind enough to share, which documents Swainson’s hawk usage of this important Conservancy preserve.