Hen harrier


Name: the hen harrier (Circus cyaneus) is a medium-sized bird of prey.

Appearance: male hen harriers are mostly grey with white stomachs, while females are brown with white rings on their tails.

Size: they measure around 40 to 50 cm in length with wingspans of around 1.0 to 1.2 metres.

Diet: they are typical harriers and hunt by flying low to the ground in open areas and surprising their prey from above. They mostly eat small mammals although can also take birds, frogs, reptiles, and insects. Hen harriers have exceptionally good hearing which they use to help find food.

Did you know: hen harriers are one of the few raptors to have multiple partners. Males have been known to mate with up to five females at a time! The number of partners depends on the amount of food available. In some parts of Europe, people believed that seeing a harrier was a sign that someone was about to die.  Although they have also been known as ‘good hawks’ as they don’t eat poultry but do eat mice and other agricultural pests. Unfortunately, hen harrier populations in the UK are in critical condition due to habitat loss and illegal killing on grouse moors.

Location: they are found on open moorlands, bogs, and agricultural areas across northern Eurasia. In winter they migrate to southern Europe and Asia.

Where TO SEE hen harriers

According to reports submitted to WildSide, you can see hen harriers in the following places:

Place Chance to see User rating No. reports
Dee Estuary
Isle of Mull
very low
very good

Photo credit: Rob Zweers under a Creative Commons license from Flickr

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