Family Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)

Least Concern

Montagu's Harrier (Circus pygargus)


French: Busard cendré German: Wiesenweihe Spanish: Aguilucho cenizo

Falco Pygargus


, 1758,



Known to have hybridized with C. macrourus. Monotypic.


NW Africa and S & C Europe E through Ukraine, W Russia and Caspian lowlands to Kazakhstan, upper R Yenisey and extreme NW China (W Xinjiang). Winters in Africa S of Sahara and Indian Subcontinent S to Sri Lanka.

Descriptive notes

39–49 cm; male 227–305 g, female 254–445 g; wingspan 102–123 cm.  Normal male has black primaries and black bands across secondaries (1 above, 2... read more


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


Open areas with grass or shrubs; generally flat or undulating ground, less often in steeper terrain... read more

Food and feeding

Small ground birds, including many of their young in breeding season; small mammals, mainly voles, which when abundant can constitute... read more


Laying mostly in May–Jun; from mid April in SW Spain and Morocco. Solitary, or in loose groups of up to 10s of pairs; males... read more


Migratory, wintering in sub-Saharan Africa, Indian Subcontinent and Sri Lanka; few winter records... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Has declined, mainly due to loss and transformation of natural or semi-natural habitats and high rate of breeding failure... read more

Recommended citation

Orta, J., de Juana, E., Boesman, P., Marks, J.S. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2019). Montagu's Harrier (Circus pygargus). 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 14 November 2019).