Family Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)


Black Harrier (Circus maurus)


French: Busard maure German: Mohrenweihe Spanish: Aguilucho negro

Falco maurus


, 1828,

Cape of Good Hope, South Africa




S South Africa (especially Western Cape; far less common or irruptive in Northern Cape, Eastern Cape and Free State), with tiny breeding population in NW Namibia. Non-breeders occur in most of Namibia and Lesotho; vagrant to Botswana and Swaziland.

Descriptive notes

44–50 cm; wingspan 105–115 cm. White rump and bands across tail and flight-feathers conspicuous at all ages; no other largely blackish Circus in range... read more


Mellow "pi-pi-pi-pi..." given as contact and in courtship, also by female when soliciting... read more


Breeds in Mediterranean-like fynbos habitat of Cape Floral Kingdom and adjacent karooid scrub,... read more

Food and feeding

Mainly small birds, up to 350 g, including nestlings; also eggs, rodents (mice and vlei rats), insects (grasshoppers, beetles and... read more


Breeds mainly in wet season within winter-rainfall zone of S Cape, also in dry season of adjacent summer-rainfall areas of E Free State and... read more


Most migrate N in winter (Jan–Jul) to dry steppe and grassland areas of S Namibia and NC... read more

Status and conservation

ENDANGERED. CITES II. Rare to very locally common, with very small population. Breeding restricted to South Africa, where concentrated in Western Cape (core range), with... read more

Recommended citation

Kemp, A.C., Kirwan, G.M., Christie, D.A. & Sharpe, C.J. (2020). Black Harrier (Circus maurus). 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 on 27 February 2020).