Northern Harrier Hawk – Call | Range | Diet | Habitat | Wing | Migration

Northern Harrier

The northern harrier, scientific name Circus hudsonius is a bird of prey. Parts of Europe and Asia have a number of sorts of harriers, however, North America has just one. Harriers are very distinctive hawks, long-winged and long-tailed, often seen quartering low over the bottom in open nation.

At the shut range, the face of our Northern Harrier appears relatively like that of an owl; like an owl (and in contrast to most different hawks) it might depend on its eager listening to assist it to find prey because it programs low over the fields. In this article, I am going to talk about Northern Harrier hawk, range, call, diet, habitat, wingspan, migration, endangered, etc.

Northern Harrier profile

It breeds all through the northern components of the northern hemisphere in Canada and the northernmost USA. While many taxonomic authorities cut up the northern harrier and the hen harrier into distinct species, others think about them as conspecific.

It migrates to more southerly areas in winter with breeding birds in more northerly areas transferring to the southernmost USA, Mexico, and Central America. In milder areas within the southern US, they could be current all year, however, the greater floor is essentially abandoned in winter.

Color Pattern

Males are grey above and whitish under with black wingtips, a darkish trailing edge to the wing, and a black-banded tail. Females and immatures are brown, with black bands on the tail.

Adult females have whitish undersides with brown streaks, whereas immatures are buffy, with much less streaking. All Northern Harriers have a white rump patch that’s apparent in flight.

Northern Harrier Description

The northern harrier is 41–52 cm (16–20 in) long with a 97–122 cm (38–48 in) wingspan. It resembles different harriers in having distinct female and male plumages.

The sexes additionally differ in weight, with males weighing 290 to 400 g (10 to 14 oz), with a median of 350 g (12 oz), and females weighing 390 to 750 g (14 to 26 oz), with a median of 530 g (19 oz).

Among standard measurements, the wing chord is 32.8 to 40.6 cm (12.9 to 16.0 in), the tail is 19.three to 25.eight cm (7.6 to 10.2 in), and the tarsus is 7.1 to 8.9 cm (2.8 to 3.5 in).

It is comparatively long-winged and long-tailed, having the longest wing and tail relative to its body size of any raptor occurring in North America.

The northern harrier has been cut up from the hen harrier by some taxonomists based mostly on genetic evaluation. It breeds in North America and its closest relative is the Cinereous Harrier (C. cinereus). The male’s plumage is a darker gray than that of the hen harrier and the feminine can be darker and more rufous. The grownup male is usually nicknamed the “Grey Ghost”, due to his placing plumage and spectral aura.

The feminine offers a whistled piih-eh when receiving meals from the male, and her alarm name is chit-it-it-it-it-et-it. The male calls chek-chek-chek, with a more bouncing chuk-uk-uk-uk throughout his display flight.

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Northern Harrier Behavior

This medium-sized raptor breeds on moorland, bogs, prairies, farmland coastal prairies, marshes, grasslands, swamps, and different assorted open areas. A male will preserve a territory averaging 2.6 km2 (1.Zero sq mi), although male territories have ranged from 1.7 to 150 km2 (0.66 to 57.92 sq mi).

These are one of many few raptorial birds identified to observe polygyny – one male mate with a number of females. Up to 5 females have been identified to mate with one male in a season.

The nest is constructed on the bottom or on a mound of filth or vegetation. Nests are manufactured from sticks and are lined inside with grass and leaves. Four to eight (exceptionally 2 to 10) whitish eggs are laid. The eggs measure roughly 47 mm × 36 mm (1.9 in × 1.Four in).

The eggs are incubated principally by the feminine for 31 to 32 days. When incubating eggs, the feminine sits on the nest whereas the male hunts and brings meals to her and the chicks.

The male will assist feed chicks after they hatch, however, doesn’t often watch them for a higher time frame than around 5 minutes.

The male often passes off meals to the feminine, which she then feeds to the younger, though later the feminine will seize meals and easily drop into the nest for her nestlings to eat.

The chicks fledge at around 36 days old, although breeding maturity shouldn’t be reached till 2 years in females and three years in males.

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Northern Harrier Hunting behavior

This is a typical harrier, which hunts on long wings held in a shallow V in its low flight throughout which the bird intently hugs the contours of the land under it.

Northern or hen harriers hunt primarily small mammals, as do most harriers. Preferred prey species can embrace voles, cotton rats, and ground squirrels. Up to 95% of the weight loss program includes small mammals.

However, birds are hunted with some regularity as nicely, particularly by males. Preferred avian prey embrace passerines of the open nation (i.e. sparrows, larks, pipits), small shorebirds, and the younger of waterbird and galliforms. Supplementing the weight loss program often are amphibians (particularly frogs), reptiles, and bugs (particularly orthopterans).

The species has been noticed to hunt bats if these can be found. Larger prey, resembling rabbits and grownup geese are taken typically and harriers have been identified to subdue these by drowning them in water.

Harriers hunt by stunning prey whereas flying low to the ground in open areas, as they drift low over fields and moors. The harrier’s circle space in a number of instances listening and searching for prey.

Harriers use listening repeatedly to search out prey, as they’ve exceptionally good listening to diurnal raptors, this being the operation of their owl-like facial disc. This harrier tends to be a really vocal bird whereas it glides over its searching floor.

Feeding Behavior

Usually hunts by flying low over fields, scanning the bottom; males are likely to fly decrease and quicker than females. May discover some prey by sound. On finding prey in the dense cover, might hover low over site or try and drive prey out into open.

Northern Harrier Eggs

4-6, typically 2-7, not often more. Pale bluish-white, fading to white and changing into nest-stained; typically noticed with pale brown. Incubation is by feminine solely, 30-32 days.

Young: Female stays with younger most of the time at first; male brings meals and delivers it to feminine, who feeds it to younger.

After younger are about 2 weeks old, feminine does a lot of the attempting to find them. Young might transfer quick distances away from nest after a few weeks, however, return to the nest to be fed; are capable of fly at about 30-35 days.


Female stays with younger most of the time at first; male brings meals and delivers it to feminine, who feeds it to younger. After younger are about 2 weeks old, feminine does a lot of the attempting to find them.

Young might transfer quick distances away from nest after a few weeks, however, return to the nest to be fed; are capable of fly at about 30-35 days.

Northern Harrier Diet

Mostly small mammals and birds. Diet varies with location and season. Often specializes in voles, rats, or different rodents; additionally takes different mammals, as much as the size of small rabbits.

May eat many birds, from songbirds as much as the size of sparkles, doves, small geese. Also eats massive bugs (particularly grasshoppers), snakes, lizards, toads, frogs. May feed on carrion, particularly in winter.

Northern Harrier Nesting

Often nests in unfastened colonies; one male might have two or more mates. In courtship, the male flies up after which dives, repeatedly, in a roller-coaster pattern.

Nest site is on the floor in dense subject or marsh, typically low over shallow water. Nest constructed principally by the feminine, with male supplying some materials.

Nest could also be shallow melancholy lined with grass, or platform of sticks, grass, weeds.


In fall by means of spring, search for harriers in wide-open grasslands, marshes, or fields. You’re probably to note Northern Harriers when they’re flying.

Note the low, sluggish, coursing flight fashion, the bird’s V-shaped wing posture, and its white rump.

During migration within the fall and spring, you can even see harriers excessive within the sky over mountain ridges and coastlines.

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Northern Harrier Facts

  1. Northern Harriers are essentially the most owl-like of hawks (although they’re not associated with owls). They depend on listening in addition to vision to seize prey. The disk-shaped face appears and capabilities very similar to an owl’s, with stiff facial feathers serving to direct sound to the ears.
  2. Juvenile males have pale greenish-yellow eyes, whereas juvenile females have darkish chocolate brown eyes. The eyeshade of each sex modifications progressively to lemon yellow by the point they attain maturity.
  3. Male Northern Harriers can have as many as 5 mates directly, although most have just one or two. The male supplies many of the meals for his mates and their offspring, whereas the females incubate the eggs and brood the chicks.
  4. Northern Harriers hunt principally small mammals and small birds, however, they’re able to take greater prey like rabbits and geese. They typically subdue bigger animals by drowning them.
  5. Northern Harrier fossils courting from 11,000 to 40,000 years ago have been unearthed in northern Mexico.
  6. The oldest Northern Harrier on file was a female, and no less than 15 years, 4 months old when she was captured and launched in 2001 by a bird bander in Quebec. She had been banded in New Jersey in 1986. Learn more about lesser yellowlegs.

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