Northern Harrier

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.

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Details & Statistics

Added to Birdorable
Hatched on 15 July 2012
Scientific Name
Circus cyaneus
  • Accipitriformes
  • Accipitridae
  • Circus
  • C. cyaneus
Birdorable Family
Conservation Status
Least Concern (as of 5 April 2020)
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Near Threatened (NT)
  • Vulnerable (VU)
  • Endangered (EN)
  • Critically Endangered (CR)
  • Extinct in the Wild (EW)
  • Extinct (EX)
Source: IUCN Red List
Units: Imperial / Metric
18.1 to 19.7 inches
40.2 to 46.5 inches
10.6 to 26.5 ounces


International Names

Chinese (汉语) 白尾鹞
Czech (Cesky) moták pillich
Danish (Dansk) Blå Kærhøg
Dutch (Nederlands) Blauwe kiekendief
Finnish (Suomi) sinisuohaukka
French (Français) Busard Saint-Martin
German (Deutsch) Kornweiher-cyaneus
Italian (Italiano) Albanella reale
Japanese (日本語) ハイイロチュウヒ [haiirochuuhi]
Norwegian (Norsk) Myrhauk
Polish (Polski) błotniak zbożowy
Russian (русский язык) Полевой лунь
Spanish (Español) Aguilucho pálido
Swedish (Svenska) Blå kärrhök
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