Family Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)

Near Threatened

Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus)


French: Busard pâle German: Steppenweihe Spanish: Aguilucho papialbo

Falco macrourus

S. G. Gmelin

, 1770,

Voronezh, Russia


Known to have hybridized with C. pygargus. Occasionally hybridizes with C. cyaneus#R. Monotypic.


Breeds from Finland, Ukraine and SW Russia E to L Balkhash region, NW China and perhaps N Mongolia; irregularly farther W, to Sweden, Germany and Netherlands; has bred in Turkey. Migrates mainly to Africa S of Sahara, and to region from Pakistan, India, Maldives#R and Sri Lanka E to Myanmar.

Descriptive notes

40–48 cm; male 235–416 g, female 402–550 g; wingspan 100–121 cm. Male is very pale; only four primaries black. Female is similar to females of C.... read more


Little known. Fast, high chatter, “kik-ik-ik-ik-ik-ik...”, similar to that of C. pygargus... read more


During breeding, found mainly on natural grassy plains and dry steppes in flat or undulating... read more

Food and feeding

Small mammals and birds and, especially in winter quarters, large insects. Takes advantage of demographic explosions of rodents, feeding on... read more


Laying in May–Jun. Solitary or in loose colonies of 3–5 pairs, occasionally up to 30; sometimes with C. pygargus. May... read more


Migratory; a few may remain in S of breeding range. Small numbers make post-breeding movement to N... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Currently considered Near Threatened. CITES II. Suffering steep population decline in Europe, but numbers believed more stable in Asiatic strongholds... read more

Recommended citation

Orta, J., Christie, D.A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus). 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 9 December 2019).