northern harrier (Circus cyaneus)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CONFIRMATION STATUS: Confirmed.

 

IDENTIFICATION:

  • Length: 16.5 inches Wingspan: 42 inches

  • Medium-sized, long-winged, long-tailed hawk

  • Rounded wings, can appear pointed while gliding

  • White rump

  • Short, dark, hooked beak

  • Often courses low over marshes and fields on wings held in a strong     dihedral

  • Flat face with owl-like facial disk

Adult male:

  • Pale gray body plumage, paler on underparts

  • Darker gray head

  • Black tips to flight feathers, especially noticeable on the outer primaries

  • Narrow dark bars on tail

Adult female:

  • Buff underparts with darker streaks on breast, belly, and underwing        coverts

  • Dark barring on flight feathers most visible from below

  • Dark patch on inner wing created by dark secondaries and dark second-        ary covert

  • Dark brown above

  • Narrow barring on tail

Immature:

  • Dark brown streaked head

  • Orange-buff underparts without streaks

  • Dark barring on flight feathers most visible from below

  • Dark patch on inner wing created by dark secondaries and dark second-        ary covert

  • Dark brown above

  • Narrow dark barring on tail

Similar species:

In typical habitat, the harrier is easily recognized by the low, coursing
flight, white rump, and wings held at an angle. Rough-legged hawks
occupy similar habitat but have broader wings and a black subterminal
tail band. When migrating, harriers can fly at great heights where many
of their features become less obvious. The white rump cannot be seen,
the wings may not appear held at an angle and the tail may be fanned.
The pale underwings with black primary tips of the male make it
distinctive. The dark inner wingss of females and immatures are a
helpful clue. Harriers appear thinner-winged and longer-tailed than
buteos and longer-winged than accipiters.

 

LIFE HISTORY

Migration Status: Short distance migrant
Breeding Habitat: Grassland
Nest Location: N/A
Nest Type: N/A
Clutch Size: 4-6
Length of Incubation: 31-32 days
Days to Fledge: 30-35
Number of Broods: 1
Diet: Primarily small mammals, reptiles or amphibians, birds

 

SKY MEADOWS DISTRIBUTION/SEASONAL OCCURRENCE

 

Relative abundance and seasonal occurrence are indicated in red below.

 

Relative abundance
     C - Common: Likely to be present in good numbers in appropriate habitat and season.
     U - Uncommon: May be present in appropriate habitat and season, often in low
            numbers.
     O - Occassional: Found in appropriate habitat perhaps only a few times per season,
            sometimes low numbers.
     R - Rare: May not be recorded every year.
     Acc - Accidental: Recorded once or twice, may not be expected again for a long time.

 

Seasonal Occurrence
      Sp - Spring: March, April, May
R
      Su - Summer: June, July, August
      Fall: September, October, November
U

      Winter: December, January, February O

 

 

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