Northern Harrier - Photo Copyright Ward Cameron 2003 - Click to view a larger image Northern Harrier - Photo Copyright Ward Cameron 2003 - Click to view a larger image Northern Harrier - Photo Copyright Ward Cameron 2003 - Click to view a larger image Northern Harrier - Photo Copyright Ward Cameron 2003 - Click to view a larger image  
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Northern Harrier
Circus cyaneus

Hawks, Eagles and Falcons
Hawk Family (Accipitridae)

Size: Length: 40-60 cm Wingspan: 112-120 cm

Description: Even before visual identification, the flight pattern of the northern harrier can help identify it. It flies like a cruise missile, following the rise and fall of the landscape.

The male has gray upper parts and lighter undersides. The underside is light with dark primaries and a banded tail. The rump has a distinctive white patch, not found in any other hawk. Both male and female have distinct facial disks, making the face appear almost owl-like.

Females are more reddish brown in colour, with a more reddish, streaked underside. The primaries are dark and the tail, like the mail is heavily banded.

Similar Species: None

Range: Northern harriers can be found across Canada and the U.S., and may be seen throughout the Canadian and American Rockies.

Habitat: The northern harrier prefers open country, where it can hunt near to the ground. This includes fields, marshes, and meadows.

Diet: Harriers fly low to the ground, often just a metre or so high, dropping to the ground to capture small mammals, birds, amphibian and reptiles.

Nesting: Unlike most hawks, the northern harrier nests on the ground, usually in a well sheltered area. The female builds a small nest of sticks, marsh plants and reeds which she lines with grass. They lay 4-6 (maximum 12) bluish-white (sometimes blotched) eggs which hatch after 29-39 days. Incubation is by the female, and the hatchlings are altricial and downy. The male will bring food to the female while she tends the nest, and the youngest hatchlings will often die. They take their first flight at around 37 days, but may remain with their parents for some time afterwards.

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All Material Ward Cameron 2005

 

 

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