Northern Harrier Hawk. Bird Watching Northern Harrier Hawks.


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British Columbia Outdoor Wilderness Guide



Northern Harrier
Circus cyaneus or Marsh Hawk


Description - The Northern Harrier is a long-winged, long-tailed hawk that is usually seen gliding unsteadily over marshes with its wings held in a shallow V. The rump is white and the wing tips black; the male has a pale grey back, head and breast and the female and young are brown above and streaked below. It is a usually silent bird but at the nest it utters a "kee-kee-kee-kee" or a sharp whistle.

Distribution - The Northern Harrier hawk occurs throughout all of North America, breeding as far south as California and wintering from South America to British Columbia. It prefers marshes and open grasslands.

Biology - The Northern Harrier hawk hunts its prey, which includes mice, rats and frogs, by flying close to the ground and taking these small animals by surprise. They lay 4 or 5 pale blue or white eggs on a mound of dead reeds and grass in a marsh or shrubby meadow.


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Northern Harrier Hawk. Bird Watching Northern Harrier Hawks.