Identification of Hen Harrier

The Birder's Market | Resource | Birds of Britain and Europe ID Guide | Birds of Prey | Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus |  Identification of Hen Harrier



Northern Harrier (Hen Harrier) Circus cyaneus
Length 45 - 52 cm
Wing span 100-120 cm
This beautiful raptor has the dubious distinction of being Britain's most persecuted bird of prey.A dependance on mature heather moorland for breeding has brought it into conflict with game keepers.In flight the adult male can often be momentarily mistaken for a gull, but it flies in a slow,wavering motion often gliding with wings held in an upward 'V' shape.Smaller than the Marsh Harrier but larger and generally stockier than Montagu's, the adult male is easily identified by it's blue-grey upperparts and breast merging into all white underparts which contrast sharply with black primary feathers and a dark band on the trailing edge of the underwing.Pallid harrier C.macrourus lacks this band and has a different primary feather pattern.


Hen harriers arrive back on their breeding grounds in March and April. The males indulge in spectacular, aerobatic display flights to attract females. The hen harrier has a strong association with heather in England and nests are almost always sited so that the surrounding heather bushes provide cover and protection. A clutch of 4-6 eggs is laid, in April or May, and incubated mainly by the female for about 30 days. The chicks then spend a further 30-40 days in the nest before making their first flight.

for used books about this species, click here
We highly recommend the following New titles....
Raptors of the World

Raptors of the World

To birdwatchers, raptors remain among the most challenging and exciting groups. Their distribution is truly global: some of the most widespread species live in northern temperate regions; three-quarters are confined to the tropics of South America, Africa and Indomalayan region through to melanesia. Raptors of the world, part of an award winning series, covers all 313 of the world's species. Each species is illustrated by adult juvenile and selected immature plumages, as well as main geographical races and colour morphs; in all over 2000 perched and flying birds, some with typical prey, are shown on the 112 colour plates. Raptors of the world is in every way a landmark volume which will be the standard reference for this popular group for many years to come.

Raptors of the World  A Field Guide Raptors of the World A Field Guide
Raptors of the World (Helm, 2001 Above ) is the definitive handbook to this most popular group of birds. This new field guide uses all of the plates from Raptors of the World, with a concise, revised text on facing pages, to create a conveniently-sized, lightweight field reference covering all 320 raptor species. The book also has an updated colour distribution map for each species. Much of the extensive introductory material has been retained in this guide, with the addition of a complete species list containing all subspecies and brief details of their ranges. Armed with this guide, birders will be able to identify with confidence any raptor encountered anywhere in the world.
Harriers of the World
" ... the book is remarkably compact, written in an engaging and easily accessible style, and features many beautiful line drawings by the authors twin brother, John ... We recommend that everyone with even a passing interest in how and why birds do what they do, as well as all those who take study of behaviour, ecology and evolution more seriously, should add this volume to their bookshelves." Africa Birds and Birding
"...a book that is full of ideas and insight."IBIS

Harriers are a world-wide group of birds of prey whose mating systems, population dynamics, and evolution are well-studied. This is the first book to synthesise and analyse the masses of data on the behavioural ecology of harriers. It offers an intriguing comparison of breeding systems among harriers in the northern and southern hemispheres, and includes a new phylogeny of the harriers, based on the most recent DNA findings. It is illustrated throughout with original line drawings of these impressive birds.

Readership: Serious amateur as well as professional ornithologists; researchers and students of ecology and behavioural ecology

Harriers of the World
In Search of Harriers

In Search of Harriers

The artwork in this lavishly illustrated book spans over fifty years of Donald's work and includes in excess of a hundred full colour paintings, along with numerous sketches and black and white illustrations.Mainly from private collections, many of these paintings have never previously been reproduced.
A stunning collection of harrier paintings including harriers both at their breeding and wintering grounds, as well as a selection of paintings of other avian species, within their natural habitats.
This is complemented by authoratative text gained by over fifty years of field observations of harriers and associated species, especially in Galloway, south west Scotland.In the text Donald beautifully describes important harrier behaviour patterns such as hunting, breeding including the spectacular 'sky dancing' display and their secretive communal roosting.

Harriers Journeys Around the World Harriers Journeys Around the World
Until recently harriers were one of the least known group of birds but after an in-depth study of the Hen Harrier in Northern Ireland, Don Scott succeeded in his passion to observe and study all 16 of the World's species as well as the single subspecies of harrier. This quest which began over 20 years ago in Don's home country has taken him to six continents. His sometimes dangerous journeys encompassed many exotic locations where harriers had previously received little general interest or scientific attention. The author's dogged persistence in the field enabled him to witness traits of behaviour previously unknown in harriers. It began with the unique discovery of tree-nesting Hen Harriers and culminated with the Papuan Harrier in Papua New Guinea.

The Birder's Market | Resource | Birds of Britain and Europe ID Guide | Birds of Prey | Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus |  Identification of Hen Harrier

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