Family Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)

Least Concern

Pied Harrier (Circus melanoleucos)


French: Busard tchoug German: Elsterweihe Spanish: Aguilucho pío

Falco melanoleucos


, 1769,

Sri Lanka




S Siberia (Transbaikalia) and E Mongolia E to Amurland and NE China; has bred in N Myanmar and NE India (Assam). Winters from India and Sri Lanka to S China, Borneo and Philippines.

Descriptive notes

43–50 cm; male 254–325 g, female 390–455 g; wingspan 110–125 cm. Male strikingly patterned, with jet black on head, neck, breast, back and primaries... read more


Generally silent outside breeding season. In display, male repeatedly gives “kiiy-veee” (recalling... read more


Open ground, including grasslands, steppe, edge of wet meadows, marshes with reeds and rushes,... read more

Food and feeding

Diet not well studied. Small mammals, especially voles, but also mice and shrews; more occasionally small terrestrial birds and their... read more


Laying in May in Siberia, probably in Apr in N Burma. Nests on ground, in long grass, reedbeds, rushes or sometimes in bushes; nest is thin... read more


Migratory, except in Assam and Burma, where may well only breed irregularly. Reaches N breeding... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Relatively small range, apparently with limited numbers; population size and trends poorly known; total of 14,534 birds... read more

Recommended citation

Orta, J., Boesman, P. & Marks, J.S. (2020). Pied Harrier (Circus melanoleucos). 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 19 January 2020).