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Northern Harrier

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  • Vanellus vanellus
  • Plovers & Shorebirds
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  • Accipiter gentilis
  • Birds of Prey

About the Northern Harrier

Also known as: Hen Harrier, European Northern Harrier, Gray Ghost, Marsh Harrier

The Northern Harrier, also known as the Hen Harrier, is a widespread species of raptor that lives in the northern hemisphere across parts of the Americas as well as Eurasia. It is the only species of Harrier found in North America.

Harriers are sexually dichromatic, meaning that females and males have recognizable plumage differences. Males are mostly grey and white, while females are shades of brown and with some white. Both have a facial disc, which aids in hearing. The disc is more visible in the female.

Northern Harriers fly low, sometimes butterfly-like, over grasslands and other open habitats while hunting for prey. They eat mainly small mammals like mice, but will also take birds as prey.

Details & Stats

Hatched Added to Birdorable on: 15 July 2012
Scientific Name Circus cyaneus
  • Accipitriformes
  • Accipitridae
  • Circus
  • C. cyaneus
Birdorable Family Birds of Prey
Conservation Status Least Concern
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Near Threatened (NT)
  • Vulnerable (VU)
  • Endangered (EN)
  • Critically Endangered (CR)
  • Extinct in the Wild (EW)
  • Extinct (EX)
Source: IUCN Red List
(as of 26 September 2017)
Units: Imperial Metric
18.1 to 19.7 inches
40.2 to 46.5 inches
10.6 to 26.5 ounces
Range West Europe East Europe North Europe South Europe West Asia Central Asia East Asia North America Central America Caribbean South America United States (West)

International Names

  • 白尾鹞 (Chinese)
  • moták pillich (Czech)
  • Blå Kærhøg (Danish)
  • Blauwe kiekendief (Dutch)
  • sinisuohaukka (Finnish)
  • Busard Saint-Martin (French)
  • Kornweiher-cyaneus (German)
  • Albanella reale (Italian)
  • ハイイロチュウヒ [haiirochuuhi] (Japanese)
  • Myrhauk (Norwegian)
  • błotniak zbożowy (Polish)
  • Полевой лунь (Russian)
  • Aguilucho pálido (Spanish)
  • Blå kärrhök (Swedish)

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