Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

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Maximum longevity: 17.1 years (wild)
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Joao Pedro de Magalhaes
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Behavior

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Northern harriers are especially vocal around the nest. Sounds of courtship are reflected by rapid kek, quik, or ek notes in series. Calls of distress are urgent and high pitched, also in rapid succession. This call is more nasal-sounding in males than in females.

There also exists a "food call", which is observed most frequently during breeding season. Females issue a piercing eeyah, eeyah scream, which may be repeated for several minutes. This is responded to by a barely audible purrduk chuckle by the male, which solicits the female from the nest.

Young harriers emit a "begging call" when they hear their parents or in response to seeing their parents fly overhead. This sound is often referred to as a pain call, and it is a series of chit notes. This sound only becomes more emphatic with increasing age.

Northern harriers, like most raptors, have a keen sense of vision. Northern harriers are unusual in that their owl-like facial ruff enhances their sense of hearing, which they use extensively in finding prey.

Communication Channels: visual ; acoustic

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

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Limas, B. 2001. "Circus cyaneus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Circus_cyaneus.html
author
Brian Limas, Fresno City College
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Carl Johansson, Fresno City College
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Lauren Pajerski, Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, University of Michigan
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George Hammond, Animal Diversity Web
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Conservation Status

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No conservation measures have been enacted specifically for this species, however, conservation measures for waterfowl and habitat management for game birds has increased local numbers of nesting northern harriers. The species is abundant enough to be rated "Least Concern" by the IUCN. It it protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty, and is listed in Appendix II of CITES.

US Migratory Bird Act: protected

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: appendix ii

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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Limas, B. 2001. "Circus cyaneus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Circus_cyaneus.html
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Brian Limas, Fresno City College
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Carl Johansson, Fresno City College
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Lauren Pajerski, Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, University of Michigan
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George Hammond, Animal Diversity Web
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Benefits

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There are no negative affects of northern harriers on humans.

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Limas, B. 2001. "Circus cyaneus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Circus_cyaneus.html
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Brian Limas, Fresno City College
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Carl Johansson, Fresno City College
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Lauren Pajerski, Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, University of Michigan
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George Hammond, Animal Diversity Web
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Benefits

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Northern harriers help protect crops by reducing populations of field mice and other rodents. Unlike some other hawk species, they do not attack poultry.

Positive Impacts: controls pest population

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Limas, B. 2001. "Circus cyaneus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Circus_cyaneus.html
author
Brian Limas, Fresno City College
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Carl Johansson, Fresno City College
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Lauren Pajerski, Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, University of Michigan
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George Hammond, Animal Diversity Web
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Associations

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Predation by northern harriers can have significant effects on populations of field mice and other rodents.

As prey, northern harriers provide food for some terrestrial predators, such as coyotes Canis latrans, striped skunks Mephitis mephitis, raccoons Procyon lotor, and red foxes Vulpes vulpes.

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Limas, B. 2001. "Circus cyaneus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Circus_cyaneus.html
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Brian Limas, Fresno City College
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Carl Johansson, Fresno City College
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Lauren Pajerski, Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, University of Michigan
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George Hammond, Animal Diversity Web
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Trophic Strategy

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The diet is variable, depending on dominant prey types in the area. In areas with large populations of small mammals, they make up 95% of the diet. In northern grasslands, the diet may be almost exclusively Microtus voles. Northern harriers also eat other small vertebrates, including snakes, frogs, passerine birds, and small waterfowl. When hunting for food, harriers glide at a slow pace close to the ground until prey is found. Harriers then dive quickly to capture it. They may also hide in vegetation, waiting to pounce on prey. They sometimes store extra prey to eat later.

Animal Foods: birds; mammals; amphibians; reptiles

Foraging Behavior: stores or caches food

Primary Diet: carnivore (Eats terrestrial vertebrates)

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Limas, B. 2001. "Circus cyaneus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Circus_cyaneus.html
author
Brian Limas, Fresno City College
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Carl Johansson, Fresno City College
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Lauren Pajerski, Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, University of Michigan
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George Hammond, Animal Diversity Web
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Distribution

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Northern harriers are found throughout the northern hemisphere. In the Americas they breed throughout North America from Alaska and Canadian provinces south of tundra regions south as far as Baja California, New Mexico, Texas, Kansas, and North Carolina. They are only rarely seen breeding in parts of the Atlantic coastal states, such as Vermont, Rhode Island, and Maine and are similarly rare in the arid and mountainous western interior, including most of California, Oregon, and Washington. Their winter range is from southern Canada to the Caribbean and Central America.

In the Palearctic, northern harriers breed throughout Eurasia, from Portugal in the west, to Lapland and Siberia in the north, and east through China. They winter in northern African and tropical Asia.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native ); palearctic (Native ); oriental (Native )

Other Geographic Terms: holarctic

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Limas, B. 2001. "Circus cyaneus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Circus_cyaneus.html
author
Brian Limas, Fresno City College
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Carl Johansson, Fresno City College
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Lauren Pajerski, Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, University of Michigan
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George Hammond, Animal Diversity Web
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Habitat

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Northern harriers are found mainly in open habitats such as fields, savannas, meadows, marshes, upland prairies, and desert steppe. They also occur in agricultural areas and riparian zones. Densest populations are found in large expanses of undisturbed, open habitats with dense, low vegetation. In eastern North America northern harriers are found most frequently in wetland habitats. In western North America they are most abundant in upland habitats such as desert steppe. Northern harriers avoid forested and mountainous areas.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; chaparral

Wetlands: marsh

Other Habitat Features: agricultural ; riparian

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Limas, B. 2001. "Circus cyaneus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Circus_cyaneus.html
author
Brian Limas, Fresno City College
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Carl Johansson, Fresno City College
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Lauren Pajerski, Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, University of Michigan
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George Hammond, Animal Diversity Web
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Life Expectancy

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There is very little information known concerning the lifespan of northern harriers. The longest lifespan reported is 16 years and 5 months. The average lifespan, however, is 16.6 months. The oldest reported breeding female was 8 years old.

Range lifespan
Status: wild:
16.19 (high) years.

Average lifespan
Status: wild:
16.6 months.

Average lifespan
Status: wild:
197 months.

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Limas, B. 2001. "Circus cyaneus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Circus_cyaneus.html
author
Brian Limas, Fresno City College
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Carl Johansson, Fresno City College
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Lauren Pajerski, Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, University of Michigan
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George Hammond, Animal Diversity Web
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Morphology

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Northern harriers have several characteristics which distinguish them from other birds. Specialized feathers around their face in the shape of a disk focus sound into their ears. Their wings form a dihedral when in gliding flight, and they have a distinctive white rump patch which is obvious during flight.

Adult harriers have yellow eyes. Adult males are gray on their dorsal side. Ventrally, they are white, except for spots on their chest, and black wingtips. Adult females are a brown color, except for underneath their wings, where there are white stripes. Immature males and females resemble the adult female, but they have a darker shade of brown covering the dorsal side and a brownish rusty color underneath. Immature harriers have brown eyes.

The length of adult males varies between 41 and 45 cm (16 to 18 in). The length of adult females varies between 45 and 50 cm (18 to 20 in). Typically the wingspan of adult males varies between 97 and 109 cm (38 to 43 in). The wingspan of adult females varies between 111 and 122 cm (44 to 48 in). The weight of adult males is approximately 290 to 390 grams(1/2 to 1 lb). The average weight of adult females is approximately 390 to 600 grams(1 to 1.3lbs). (Wheeler and Clark 1995,Weidensaul 1996,Ryser 1985,Wheeler and Clark 1987)

Range mass: 290 to 600 g.

Range length: 41 to 50 cm.

Range wingspan: 340 to 384 mm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: female larger; sexes colored or patterned differently

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Limas, B. 2001. "Circus cyaneus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Circus_cyaneus.html
author
Brian Limas, Fresno City College
editor
Carl Johansson, Fresno City College
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Lauren Pajerski, Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, University of Michigan
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George Hammond, Animal Diversity Web
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Associations

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Northern harriers have many predators, including raccoons, skunks, American crows, common ravens, coyotes, feral dogs, red foxes, and great horned owls. American crows and common ravens prey on eggs, while other raptors, especially great horned owls, target nestlings.

Northern harriers with young generally respond aggressively to predators. Defense ranges from aggressive distress calls to striking the intruder with closed talons. Males and females contribute equally to defense.

Northern harriers often compete with short eared owls for the same food source. Food shortages can occur because both hunt the same prey. Northern harriers have a tendency to steal prey away from short eared owls by harassing them until the owl drops its prey. Short eared owls have been known to hunt both at night and during the day, while northern harriers hunt only during the day.

Known Predators:

  • American crow Corvus brachyrhynchos
  • common ravens (Corvus corax)
  • coyotes (Canis latrans)
  • great horned owls (Bubo virginianus)
  • feral dogs (Canis lupus familiaris)
  • striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis)
  • red foxes (Vulpes vulpes)
  • raccoons (Procyon lotor)
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Limas, B. 2001. "Circus cyaneus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Circus_cyaneus.html
author
Brian Limas, Fresno City College
editor
Carl Johansson, Fresno City College
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Lauren Pajerski, Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, University of Michigan
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George Hammond, Animal Diversity Web
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Reproduction

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Adult males show interesting behaviors during mating season. During mating season the male courts the female by flying high in the air and then dives down twirling and spinning. Males are sometimes polygynous and have 1 to 3 mates. During incubation the male provides food for the female, but he doesn't approach the nest. When he is near the nest he will call out, and as she comes to him he drops the food to her. During the breeding season northern harriers become very territorial and will attack other hawks, birds, or humans that approach their nesting areas.

Most males are monogamous, although some males are polygynous, having been known to pair with up to five mates in a season. Females are monogamous. This is due, not only to the female-biased sex ratio, but also to the abundance of food during the spring.

Mating System: monogamous ; polygynous

Harriers often nest in loose colonies of 15 to 20 individuals. The nest, built mostly by the female, is made out of sticks and padded on the inside with grass. The nest is built on the ground, often on raised mounds of dirt or clumps of vegetation.

Eggs are laid from mid-May to early June. They are white with a blue tint, and occasionally have brown spots. The eggs are approximately 47 x 36mm. Three to five eggs are laid, and incubation is only by the female.

The eggs hatch in approximately 31 to 32 days. Male harriers will contribute to the feeding of their offspring during the time they are in the nest and will watch over the nest for a maximum of 5 minutes when the female is away.

Breeding interval: Northern harriers breed once per season.

Breeding season: Primary females breed from April through July, while secondary females breed from May through September.

Range eggs per season: 3 to 5.

Average eggs per season: 4.4.

Range time to hatching: 28 to 36 days.

Range fledging age: 30 to 35 days.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 2 years.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 3 years.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; oviparous

Average eggs per season: 5.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
Sex: male:
365 days.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
Sex: female:
365 days.

Female investment in her offspring begins with the provisioning of yolk to her eggs. After laying, the female will spread her wings to shelter her young from rain and extreme sun. Her mate will provide food for her for about two weeks after the eggs hatch, then departs. Food is transferred to the female via the male by aerial-pass, and then the female feeds her young. When young reach fledgling stage and are able to fly sufficiently well, food transfer is made to them by their mother, also via aerial-pass.

Parental Investment: altricial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female)

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Limas, B. 2001. "Circus cyaneus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Circus_cyaneus.html
author
Brian Limas, Fresno City College
editor
Carl Johansson, Fresno City College
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Lauren Pajerski, Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, University of Michigan
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George Hammond, Animal Diversity Web
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Circus cyaneus

provided by DC Birds Brief Summaries

Intermediate in appearance between the slim bird hawks (genus Accipiter) and thick-set buzzards (genus Buteo), the Northern Harrier is most easily identified by its size (17 ½ - 24 inches), long wings, long squared-off tail, and conspicuous white rump patch. Male Northern Harriers are light gray above and pale below, while females are solid brown above and streaked brown and tan below. Like most species of raptors, females are larger than males. The Northern Harrier is found widely across Eurasia (where it is known as the Hen Harrier) and North America. In the New World, this species breeds across Canada, Alaska, and the northern tier of the United States. In winter, Northern Harriers may be found from the southern Great Lakes and Pacific Northwest south to Mexico, Central America, and the West Indies. In the Old World, this species breeds across northern Europe and Asia south to Portugal and northern China, wintering as far south as North Africa and South Asia. The Northern Harrier inhabits a variety of open habitats, including grassland, marshes, and agricultural fields. This species avoids built-up areas and forests. The diet of the Northern Harrier consists primarily of small mammals and songbirds. Due to this species’ preference for open habitat, Northern Harriers may be most easily observed flying low over the tops of tall grasses in search of prey. Less frequently, Northern Harriers may be seen soaring high over open areas, displaying their characteristic long tail and wings. This species is primarily active during the day.

Threat Status: Least Concern

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Smithsonian Institution
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Reid Rumelt

Brief Summary

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Do you ever see a hen harrier in the Netherlands? Then you are very fortunate! These beautiful birds are having a very difficult time surviving in this country. They are only found in just a few places in this country and their numbers keep dropping. It is unknown why this is happening, but is probably due to a lack of food. Just like the marsh harrier, hen harriers have a shallow V-shaped silhouette as they scan the ground for prey or glide low over the ground. They sleep and nest on the ground.
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Circus cyaneus

provided by EOL authors

Intermediate in appearance between the slim bird hawks (genusAccipiter) and thick-set buzzards (genusButeo), the Northern Harrier is most easily identified by its size (17 ½ - 24 inches), long wings, long squared-off tail, and conspicuous white rump patch. Male Northern Harriers are light gray above and pale below, while females are solid brown above and streaked brown and tan below. Like most species of raptors, females are larger than males. The Northern Harrier is found widely across Eurasia (where it is known as the Hen Harrier) and North America. In the New World, this species breeds across Canada, Alaska, and the northern tier of the United States. In winter, Northern Harriers may be found from the southern Great Lakes and Pacific Northwest south to Mexico, Central America, and the West Indies. In the Old World, this species breeds across northern Europe and Asia south to Portugal and northern China, wintering as far south as North Africa and South Asia. The Northern Harrier inhabits a variety of open habitats, including grassland, marshes, and agricultural fields. This species avoids built-up areas and forests. The diet of the Northern Harrier consists primarily of small mammals and songbirds. Due to this species’ preference for open habitat, Northern Harriers may be most easily observed flying low over the tops of tall grasses in search of prey. Less frequently, Northern Harriers may be seen soaring high over open areas, displaying their characteristic long tail and wings. This species is primarily active during the day.

References

  • Circus cyaneus. Xeno-canto. Xeno-canto Foundation, n.d. Web. 20 July 2012.
  • Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus). The Internet Bird Collection. Lynx Edicions, n.d. Web. 20 July 2012.
  • Smith, Kimberly G., Sara Ress Wittenberg, R. Bruce Macwhirter and Keith L. Bildstein. 2011. Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/210
  • eBird Range Map - Northern Harrier. eBird. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, N.d. Web. 20 July 2012.

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Rumelt, Reid B. Circus cyaneus. June-July 2012. Brief natural history summary of Circus cyaneus. Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C.
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Robert Costello (kearins)
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Associated Plant Communities

provided by Fire Effects Information System Animals
Northern harriers inhabit wetland plant communities of sedge (Carex
spp.), rush (Juncus spp.), reed (Phragmites spp.), bulrush (Scirpus
spp.), willow (Salix spp.), and tamarisk (Tamarix spp.) [6,16].
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bibliographic citation
Snyder, S. A. 1993. Circus cyaneus. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Common Names

provided by Fire Effects Information System Animals
More info for the term: marsh

northern harrier
marsh hawk
blue hawk
white-rumped harrier
cinereous harrier
frog hawk
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Snyder, S. A. 1993. Circus cyaneus. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Conservation Status

provided by Fire Effects Information System Animals
The northern harrier declining due to draining of wetlands, livestock
grazing, flooding, and monocultural farming [11,15]. It is noted on The
Blue List as down or greatly down throughout most of its range [24]. It
is state-listed as endangered in Rhode Island and Illinois and
threatened in Massachusetts [5,22,23].
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cc-publicdomain
bibliographic citation
Snyder, S. A. 1993. Circus cyaneus. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Cover Requirements

provided by Fire Effects Information System Animals
More info for the term: herbaceous

Northern harriers need open, low woody or herbaceous vegetation for
nesting and hunting [8]. Harriers usually nest adjacent to hunting
grounds and where nest predation is low. Their food base should be
within 11.2 miles (18 km) of their nests [21]. They use disproportionate
amounts of rank grasses, sedges (Carex spp.), willows (Salix spp.),
goldenrod (Solidago spp.) and nettle (Urtica spp.) for nest building
relative to the abundance of those plant genera [16]. In Massachusetts,
northern harriers nest in mixed stands of shining sumac (Rhus
copallina), Virginia rose (Rosa virginiana), pasture rose (R. carolina),
northern arrowwood (Viburnum recognitum), and highbush blueberry
(Vaccinium corymbosum) [5].
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bibliographic citation
Snyder, S. A. 1993. Circus cyaneus. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Distribution

provided by Fire Effects Information System Animals
The northern harrier has a circumpolar distribution. In North America,
it is found from north Alaska east across Canada to the Atlantic Coast,
and south to Mexico [8,16]. It breeds from the northernmost part of
its range through the central states, and winters in the southern states.
Some populations are year-round residents [16].
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bibliographic citation
Snyder, S. A. 1993. Circus cyaneus. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Food Habits

provided by Fire Effects Information System Animals
The primary prey base of northern harriers is meadow voles (Microtus
pennsylvanicus) [8,16]. They also eat a variety of amphibians,
reptiles, and invertebrates when these food sources are abundant [16].
Other prey includes hares (Lepus spp.), rabbits (Sylvilagus spp.),
shrews (Sorex spp.), ground squirrels (Spermophilus spp.), lesser
prairie chickens (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus), passerine birds, and
occasional carion [7,14,16].
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bibliographic citation
Snyder, S. A. 1993. Circus cyaneus. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Habitat-related Fire Effects

provided by Fire Effects Information System Animals
More info for the terms: backfire, cover, grassland, headfire, prescribed fire

Fires can open up grasslands and expose prey for northern harriers [2].
However, northern harriers were not observed following prescribed fires
in a dry prairie grassland in Florida. The authors admit that counts
for large birds may have been underestimated. Fires were conducted in
January and again in late June. After the June fire, total bird
abundance for all species was lower on the burned site than on the
unburned control [12].

Prescribed fire in North Dakota destroyed three of four northern harrier
nests, while one nest hatched following the fire [18]. No nests were
initiated afterwards. Burning was conducted in mid-June using a
backfire on the downwind side followed by flank fires, and a headfire
across the upwind side.

To determine the effects on small mammal populations, fires were
prescribed on Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Oregon, where northern
harriers are abundant [6]. Fires in early November removed cover and
immediately reduced the small mammal population. However, small mammals
returned to burned sites the first and second postfire years. There was
an increase in small mammal numbers to above preburn levels during the
second postfire year, but this might have been due to above-average
winter temperatures.

Three years following prescribed burning in Wyoming, northern harriers
were not found on unburned plots or on plots burned in early June.
Northern harriers were found, however, on plots burned in late August.
Small mammal densities were high on the August-burned plots, and raptors
were observed preying upon the mammals. The prescribed burning involved
two fires, both conducted in a mountain big sagebrush (Artemisia
tridentata ssp. vaseyana) community. The first fire, set in early June,
resulted in patches of completely burned, partially burned, and unburned
areas. Plant cover on plots burned in June was 50 percent lower than on
control plots at the first postfire year. Cover was 79 percent of the
control by the third postfire year. The second fire was set in late
August, and all living and dead vegetation was consumed. Cover on
August-burned was 82 percent less than on control plots at the first
postfire year, and 54 percent of control plots by the second postfire
year.
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bibliographic citation
Snyder, S. A. 1993. Circus cyaneus. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Habitat: Cover Types

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This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):

16 Aspen
63 Cottonwood
74 Cabbage palmetto
105 Tropical hardwoods
106 Mangrove
217 Aspen
238 Western juniper
239 Pinyon - juniper
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Snyder, S. A. 1993. Circus cyaneus. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Habitat: Ecosystem

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This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):

More info for the term: shrub

FRES19 Aspen-birch
FRES29 Sagebrush
FRES30 Desert shrub
FRES32 Texas savanna
FRES35 Pinyon-juniper
FRES36 Mountain grasslands
FRES37 Mountain meadows
FRES38 Plains grasslands
FRES39 Prairie
FRES40 Desert grasslands
FRES41 Wet grasslands
FRES42 Annual grasslands
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Snyder, S. A. 1993. Circus cyaneus. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Habitat: Plant Associations

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This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):

More info for the terms: shrub, woodland

K023 Juniper - pinyon woodland
K038 Great Basin sagebrush
K039 Blackbrush
K048 California steppe
K049 Tule marshes
K050 Fescue - wheatgrass
K055 Sagebrush steppe
K056 Wheatgrass - needlegrass shrubsteppe
K059 Trans-Pecos shrub savanna
K063 Foothills prairie
K064 Grama - needlegrass - wheatgrass
K066 Wheatgrass - needlegrass
K067 Wheatgrass - bluestem - needlegrass
K068 Wheatgrass - grama - buffalograss
K069 Bluestem - grama prairie
K072 Sea oats prairie
K073 Northern cordgrass prairie
K074 Bluestem prairie
K075 Nebraska Sandhills prairie
K076 Blackland prairie
K077 Bluestem - sacahuista prairie
K078 Southern cordgrass prairie
K079 Palmetto prairie
K080 Marl - everglades
K081 Oak savanna
K084 Cross Timbers
K086 Juniper - oak savanna
K087 Mesquite - oak savanna
K088 Fayette prairie
K092 Everglades
K105 Mangrove
K114 Pocosin
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Snyder, S. A. 1993. Circus cyaneus. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Management Considerations

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Northern harrier nests are often trampled by grazing cattle.
Suggestions for limiting livestock impact on nesting success include:
fence off nesting areas from livestock, provide more watering sites to
prevent congestion near nests, and reduce stocking rates [3]. Livestock
grazing and haying can also reduce the small mammal population on which
northern harriers depend [6].
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bibliographic citation
Snyder, S. A. 1993. Circus cyaneus. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Occurrence in North America

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AL
AK
AZ
AR
CA
CO
CT
DE
FL
GA

ID
IL
IN
IA
KS
KY
LA
ME
MD

MA
MI
MN
MS
MO
MT
NE
NV
NH
NJ

NM
NY
NC
ND
OH
OK
OR
PA
RI
SC

SD
TN
TX
UT
VT
VA
WA
WV
WI
WY

AB
BC
MB
NB
NF
NT
NS
ON
PE
PQ

SK
YT

MEXICO

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Snyder, S. A. 1993. Circus cyaneus. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Predators

provided by Fire Effects Information System Animals
Predators of northern harriers include red fox (Vulpes vulpes), striped
skunk (Mephitis mephitis), raccoons (Procyon lotor), feral cats (Felis
domesticus), mink (Mustela vison), and ravens, crows, and magpies
(Corvids) [21].
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Snyder, S. A. 1993. Circus cyaneus. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Preferred Habitat

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More info for the terms: forest, tussock

Northern harriers prefer sloughs, wet meadows, marshlands, swamps,
prairies, plains, grasslands, and shrublands [8]. They nest on the
ground, usually near water, or in tall grass, open fields, clearings, or
on the water. In the latter case, nests are built on a stick
foundation, willow clump, or sedge tussock [8]. Northern harriers
prefer low perches such as fence posts or stumps. For hunting, they use
large forest openings. They occur from sea level to 10,400 feet (3,200
m) in elevation [17].
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bibliographic citation
Snyder, S. A. 1993. Circus cyaneus. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Regional Distribution in the Western United States

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More info on this topic.

This species can be found in the following regions of the western United States (according to the Bureau of Land Management classification of Physiographic Regions of the western United States):

1 Northern Pacific Border
2 Cascade Mountains
3 Southern Pacific Border
4 Sierra Mountains
5 Columbia Plateau
6 Upper Basin and Range
7 Lower Basin and Range
8 Northern Rocky Mountains
9 Middle Rocky Mountains
10 Wyoming Basin
11 Southern Rocky Mountains
12 Colorado Plateau
13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont
14 Great Plains
15 Black Hills Uplift
16 Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands
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bibliographic citation
Snyder, S. A. 1993. Circus cyaneus. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Taxonomy

provided by Fire Effects Information System Animals
The currently accepted scientific name for northern harrier is Circus
cyaneus Linneaus [1]. There are three subspecies of northern harrier,
but only one of these, C. cyaneus ssp. hudsonius (Linnaeus), inhabits
North America [16].
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bibliographic citation
Snyder, S. A. 1993. Circus cyaneus. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Timing of Major Life History Events

provided by Fire Effects Information System Animals
More info for the term: polygamous

Age of Maturity - 1 year
Mating/Nesting - March through June beginning in the south and moving
north; can mate for life, but sometimes males are
polygamous; can nest 4 pairs/sq mile in good habitat
Clutch - 4 to 6 eggs
Incubation - 24 to 39 days
Fledge - 30 to 35 days
Life Span - 12 years
Migration - move north beginning in February; move south by late
November [7,9,16]
license
cc-publicdomain
bibliographic citation
Snyder, S. A. 1993. Circus cyaneus. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Use of Fire in Population Management

provided by Fire Effects Information System Animals
More info for the term: fire regime

When considering controlled burning in wetland areas with ground nesting
northern harriers, it is best to either leave partial burns or conduct
burning after young have fledged in order to maximize recruitment of
this species [18].

FIRE REGIMES :
Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this
species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under
"Find FIRE REGIMES".
license
cc-publicdomain
bibliographic citation
Snyder, S. A. 1993. Circus cyaneus. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/

Hen harrier

provided by wikipedia EN

The hen harrier (Circus cyaneus) is a bird of prey. The genus name Circus is derived from Ancient Greek kirkos 'circle', referring to a bird of prey named for its circling flight. The specific cyaneus is Latin, meaning "dark-blue".[2]

While many taxonomic authorities split the northern harrier and the hen harrier into distinct species, others consider them conspecific.[3]

It breeds in Eurasia. The term "hen harrier" refers to its former habit of preying on free-ranging fowl.[4]

It migrates to more southerly areas in winter. Eurasian birds move to southern Europe and southern temperate Asia. In the mildest regions, such as France and Great Britain, hen harriers may be present all year, but the higher ground is largely deserted in winter.

Description

 src=
Bird in flight at an altitude over 12,500 ft in Pangolakha Wildlife Sanctuary in East Sikkim district, India in the month of November

The hen harrier is 41–52 cm (16–20 in)[5] long with a 97–122 cm (38–48 in) wingspan.[6][7] It resembles other harriers in having distinct male and female plumages. The sexes also differ in weight, with males weighing 290 to 400 g (10 to 14 oz), with an average of 350 g (12 oz), and females weighing 390 to 750 g (14 to 26 oz), with an average of 530 g (19 oz).[5][7] Among standard measurements, the wing chord is 32.8 to 40.6 cm (12.9 to 16.0 in), the tail is 19.3 to 25.8 cm (7.6 to 10.2 in) and the tarsus is 7.1 to 8.9 cm (2.8 to 3.5 in).[7] It is relatively long winged and long tailed.[7]

The male is mainly grey above and white below except for the upper breast, which is grey like the upperparts, and the rump, which is white; the wings are grey with black wingtips. The female is brown above with white upper tail coverts, hence females, and the similar juveniles, are often called "ringtails". Their underparts are buff streaked with brown.[5] Immatures look like females but with less distinct barring, dark brown secondaries dark brown and less-streaked belly.[8]

The female gives a whistled piih-eh when receiving food from the male, and her alarm call is chit-it-it-it-it-et-it. The male calls chek-chek-chek, with a more bouncing chuk-uk-uk-uk during his display flight.[6]

Behaviour

This medium-sized raptor breeds on moorland, bogs, prairies, farmland coastal prairies, marshes, grasslands, swamps and other assorted open areas. A male will maintain a territory averaging 2.6 km2 (1.0 sq mi), though male territories have ranged from 1.7 to 150 km2 (0.66 to 57.92 sq mi).

These, are the one of the few raptorial birds known to practice polygyny – one male mates with several females. Up to five females have been known to mate with one male in a season. A supplementary feeding experiment on the Orkney islands showed that rates of polygyny were influenced by food levels; males provided with extra food had more breeding females than 'control' males that received no extra food.[9]

The nest is built on the ground or on a mound of dirt or vegetation. Nests are made of sticks and are lined inside with grass and leaves. Four to eight (exceptionally 2 to 10) whitish eggs are laid. The eggs measure approximately 47 mm × 36 mm (1.9 in × 1.4 in). The eggs are incubated mostly by the female for 31 to 32 days. When incubating eggs, the female sits on the nest while the male hunts and brings food to her and the chicks. The male will help feed chicks after they hatch, but does not usually watch them for a greater period of time than around 5 minutes.[10] The male usually passes off food to the female, which she then feeds to the young, although later the female will capture food and simply drop into the nest for her nestlings to eat. The chicks fledge at around 36 days old, though breeding maturity is not reached until 2 years in females and 3 years in males.

In winter, the hen harrier is a bird of open country, and will then roost communally, often with merlins and marsh harriers. There is now an accepted record of transatlantic vagrancy by the northern harrier, with a juvenile being recorded in Scilly, Great Britain from October 1982 to June 1983.[11]

Hunting behavior

This is a typical harrier, which hunts on long wings held in a shallow V in its low flight during which the bird closely hugs the contours of the land below it. Northern or hen harriers hunt primarily small mammals, as do most harriers. Up to 95% of the diet comprises small mammals. However, birds are hunted with some regularity as well, especially by males. Preferred avian prey include passerines of open country (i.e. sparrows, larks, pipits), small shorebirds and the young of waterfowl and galliforms. Supplementing the diet occasionally are amphibians (especially frogs), reptiles and insects (especially orthopterans).[7] The species has been observed to hunt bats if these are available.[12] Larger prey, such as rabbits and adult ducks are taken sometimes and harriers have been known to subdue these by drowning them in water.[7] Harriers hunt by surprising prey while flying low to the ground in open areas, as they drift low over fields and moors.[5] The harriers circle an area several times listening and looking for prey. Harriers use hearing regularly to find prey, as they have exceptionally good hearing for diurnal raptors, this being the function of their owl-like facial disc.[7] This harrier tends to be a very vocal bird while it glides over its hunting ground.

Mortality and competition

Little information is available on longevity in hen harriers. The longest-lived known bird is 16 years and 5 months. However, adults rarely live more than 8 years. Early mortality mainly results from predation. Predators of eggs and nestlings include raccoons, skunks, badgers, foxes, crows and ravens, dogs and owls. Both parents attack potential predators with alarm calls and striking with talons. Short-eared owls are natural competitors of this species that favor the same prey and habitat, as well as having a similarly broad distribution. Occasionally, both harriers and short-eared owls will harass each other until the victim drops its prey and it can be stolen, a practice known as kleptoparasitism. Most commonly, the harriers are the aggressors pirating prey from owls.[13]

Blauwe kiekendief Circus cyaneus Jos Zwarts 3.tif

Status

This species has a large range. There is evidence of a population decline, but the species is not believed to be approaching the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e., declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). It is therefore classified as "least concern".[1] In the United Kingdom, however, hen harrier populations are in a critical condition, due to habitat loss and illegal killing on grouse moors.[14] In 2012 only 617 pairs remained, representing a fall of 20% from 2004.

Relationship with humans

In some parts of Europe people believed that seeing a harrier perched on a house was a sign that three people would die. Unlike many raptors, hen harriers have historically been favorably regarded by farmers because they eat predators of quail eggs and mice that damage crops. Harriers are sometimes called "good hawks" because they pose no threat to poultry as some hawks do.

Forestry and hen harriers

 src=
Eggs, Collection Museum Wiesbaden

The hen harrier is a bird of open habitats such as heather moorland and extensive agriculture. However, much of its range, particularly in Ireland and parts of western Britain, has been (and continues to be) afforested, predominantly with non-native conifers such as Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) from North America.[15][16] Hen harriers nest and forage in commercial forestry when it is young, before the canopy closes (typically at between 9–12 and years old), but do not make much use of thicket and subsequent growth stages,[17][18] which typically comprise between 23 and 34 of the commercial growth cycle. Where forests replace habitats that were used by hen harriers they will therefore tend to reduce overall habitat availability.[19] However, where afforestation takes place in areas that were previously underutilised by hen harriers, it may increase the value of such areas to this species in the long-term.[20][21] Areas dominated by forestry may remain suitable to hen harriers provided that a mosaic of age classes is maintained within the forest, such that areas of young, pre-thicket forest are always available.

References

  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2013). "Circus cyaneus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2013. Retrieved 26 November 2013.old-form url
  2. ^ Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. pp. 109, 126. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  3. ^ Etherington, Graham J.; Mobley, Jason A. (2016-01-01). "Molecular phylogeny, morphology and life-history comparisons within Circus cyaneus reveal the presence of two distinct evolutionary lineages". Avian Research. 7: 17. doi:10.1186/s40657-016-0052-3. ISSN 2053-7166.
  4. ^ "Hen harrier". RSPB. Retrieved 2016-01-19.
  5. ^ a b c d del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J., eds. (1994). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 2: New World Vultures to Guineafowl. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-84-87334-15-3. |volume= has extra text (help)
  6. ^ a b Mullarney, Killian; Svensson, Lars; Zetterstrom, Dan; Grant, Peter (1999). Collins Bird Guide. London: HarperCollins. p. 86. ISBN 978-0-00-219728-1.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Ferguson-Lees, J.; Christie, D.A. (2001). Raptors of the World. London: Christopher Helm. ISBN 978-0-7136-8026-3.
  8. ^ Woo-Shin Lee, Tae-Hoe Koo, Jin-Young Park (2005). A field guide to the birds of Korea. p. 106. ISBN 978-8995141533.
  9. ^ Amar, A.; Redpath, S. M. (2002). "Determining the cause of the hen harrier decline on the Orkney Islands: an experimental test of two hypotheses". Animal Conservation Forum. 5 (1): 21–28. doi:10.1017/S1367943002001038. ISSN 1469-1795.
  10. ^ Weidensaul, Scott (1996). Raptors: the birds of prey. Lyons & Burford. ISBN 978-1-55821-275-6.
  11. ^ Fraser, P.A.; et al. (2007). "Report on rare birds in Great Britain in 2006" (PDF). British Birds. 100 (12): 707.
  12. ^ Mikula, P.; Morelli, F.; Lučan, R. K.; Jones, D. N.; Tryjanowski, P. (2016). "Bats as prey of diurnal birds: a global perspective". Mammal Review. 46 (3): 160–174. doi:10.1111/mam.12060.
  13. ^ "Short-eared Owl – Asio flammeus". owlpages.com. 24 July 2013. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  14. ^ "Welcome to the hen harrier LIFE project". RSPB. Retrieved 2016-02-12.
  15. ^ Barton, C.; Pollock, C.; Norriss, D.W.; Nagle, T.; Oliver, G.A.; Newton, S. (2006). "The second national survey of breeding hen harriers Circus cyaneus in Ireland". Irish Birds. 8: 1–20.
  16. ^ Fielding, A.; Haworth, P.; Whitfield, P.; McLeod, D. (2010). "Raptor species conservation frameworks: Hen Harrier framework project final report". Edinburgh: Scottish Natural Heritage.
  17. ^ Madders, M. (2000). "Habitat selection and foraging success of hen harriers (Circus cyaneus) in west Scotland". Bird Study. 47: 32. doi:10.1080/00063650009461158. S2CID 85192594.
  18. ^ O'Donoghue, B. (2004). The Hen Harrier in Ireland (Master's thesis). University College Dublin.
  19. ^ O'Flynn, W.J. (1983). "Population changes of the hen harrier in Ireland". Irish Birds. 2: 337–343.
  20. ^ Wilson, M.W.; Irwin, S.; Norriss, D.W.; Newton, S.F.; Collins, K.; Kelly, T.C.; O'Halloran, J. (2009). "The importance of pre-thicket conifer plantations for nesting Hen Harriers (Circus cyaneus) in Ireland". Ibis. 151 (2): 332. doi:10.1111/j.1474-919X.2009.00918.x.
  21. ^ Haworth, P.F.; Fielding, A.H. (2009). An assessment of woodland habitat utilisation by breeding hen harriers. SNH Project No. 24069. Edinburgh: Scottish Natural Heritage.

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Hen harrier: Brief Summary

provided by wikipedia EN

The hen harrier (Circus cyaneus) is a bird of prey. The genus name Circus is derived from Ancient Greek kirkos 'circle', referring to a bird of prey named for its circling flight. The specific cyaneus is Latin, meaning "dark-blue".

While many taxonomic authorities split the northern harrier and the hen harrier into distinct species, others consider them conspecific.

It breeds in Eurasia. The term "hen harrier" refers to its former habit of preying on free-ranging fowl.

It migrates to more southerly areas in winter. Eurasian birds move to southern Europe and southern temperate Asia. In the mildest regions, such as France and Great Britain, hen harriers may be present all year, but the higher ground is largely deserted in winter.

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Wikipedia authors and editors
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visit source
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