This is a large, slender hawk of the western plains. The Swainson’s Hawk is close in size and shape to the more common Red-tailed Hawk, but has longer, narrower, more pointed wings, and a smaller bill and feet. Three subgroups have been defined by color, and the light form is the most common. These birds have a dark brown head with brown eyes, and dark brown upper parts. A wide brown band on the chest contrasts with a white throat and pale belly. The underside of the wings show white wing linings, contrasting with darkly barred flight feathers, and even darker trailing edges; the tail is gray with many narrow bands, and one wide dark band near the tip. The rufous form of this hawk has a reddish belly, and the dark form is dark overall, with a dark throat – these two subgroups account for less than 10% of the total.