Family Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)

Least Concern

Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus)


Taxonomy

French: Busard Saint-Martin German: Kornweihe Spanish: Aguilucho pálido
Other common names: Northern Harrier (when lumped with C. hudsonius)
Taxonomy:

Falco cyaneus

Linnaeus

, 1766,

Europe, Africa = near London, England

.

Closely related to C. cinereus, with which it has been considered conspecific. Until recently, considered conspecific with C. hudsonius, which differs in having (first three characters in male) throat and upper breast greyish-white with mid-brown streaking vs pure blue-grey (ns[2]); lower breast to belly white with heavy mid-brown streaking turning to spotting on lower underparts and thighs vs pure white (3); upperside of outer primaries black and shading to grey basally vs all black (2); in female, underparts a shade darker (ns[1]); in juvenile, underparts rich dark rufous with sparse dark streaking vs pale brownish-buff with heavy dark streaking (3). Distinct from C. cinereus on account of (first two characters in male) throat and upper breast greyish-white with mid-brown streaking vs pure blue-grey (ns[2]); lower breast to belly white with heavy mid-brown streaking turning to spotting on lower underparts and thighs vs white with dense rufous barring (3); trailing edge of underwing dark grey vs mid-grey, weaker on primaries (2); in female, underparts heavily streaked, not barred (3). Occasionally hybridizes with C. macrourus#R. Monotypic.

Distribution:

Europe and N Asia E to Russian Far East; breeds also in S Georgia and possibly in nearby NE Turkey#R, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and W Xinjiang (NW China). Winters from Europe and NW Africa E through Turkey and Middle East to SE China, Korea and Japan.

Descriptive notes

42–50 cm; male 300–400 g, female 370–708 g; wingspan 100–121 cm. Larger and broader-winged than C. pygargus and C. ... read more

Voice

Generally silent outside breeding season. Display call of male is a cackling “che-kuk-kuk-kuk...”,... read more

Habitat

Open country with some grass or shrub cover, especially grassland, steppe, meadows, moorland, scrub... read more

Food and feeding

Diet consists mostly of vertebrates, especially mammals such as voles, mice and ground squirrels up to size of young rabbits and hares;... read more

Breeding

Laying mid-Apr to early Jul, varying with latitude; normally peaks in May in Europe. Marked tendency toward polygyny, with 2 or 3 females... read more

Movements

Completely migratory in N of range, in N & NE Europe, Asia; partially migratory and dispersive... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Population trends vary regionally, but generally seems to be in decline. Notable changes since 19th century: population... read more

Recommended citation

Orta, J., Kirwan, G.M., Boesman, P., Marks, J.S., Garcia, E.F.J. & Sharpe, C.J. (2017). Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from http://www.hbw.com/node/53029 on 25 May 2017).