POWERED BY MERLIN. Distinctive foraging behavior and conspicuous white patch on rump in all plumages. You’re most likely to notice Northern Harriers when they are flying. The Northern Harrier is distinctive from a long distance away: a slim, long-tailed hawk gliding low over a marsh or grassland, holding its wings in a V-shape and sporting a white patch at the base of its tail. The male provides most of the food for his mates and their offspring, while the females incubate the eggs and brood the chicks. From below adult males are pale with black wingtips and black-tipped secondaries. Molts. Often hovers above prey before pouncing. Historical Changes to the Distribution. Females and immatures are brown, with black bands on the tail. Circus hudsonius. Habitat. Bare Parts. All Northern Harriers have a white rump patch that is obvious in flight. Listen +4 more audio recordings. Basic Description The Northern Harrier is distinctive from a long distance away: a slim, long-tailed hawk gliding low over a marsh or grassland, holding its wings in a V-shape and sporting a white patch at the base of its tail. Up close it has an owlish face that helps it hear mice and voles beneath the vegetation. Harriers often fly with their wings held in a dihedral, or V-shape above the horizontal. Northern Harrier Circus hudsonius. See more images of this species in Macaulay Library. Northern Harriers breed in wide-open habitats ranging from Arctic tundra to prairie grasslands to fields and marshes. Northern Harriers are the most owl-like of hawks (though they’re not related to owls). Sign in to see your badges. Flies on long and broad wings. Northern Harriers often flap intermittently and make sharp turns when flying. Plumages. Adult males are grayish above with a dark trailing edge on the wings. Information, images and range maps on over 1,000 birds of North America, including sub-species, vagrants, introduced birds and possibilities Enter Bird's Name in Search Box: Species; The Northern Harrier (Circus hudsonius), once known as the "Marsh Hawk", it is the only harrier seen in North America. Adult goshawks are gray with a strong black-and-white facial pattern, unlike the harrier's owl-like face. Western Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus) “C” Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus) “C” Montagu’s Harrier (Circus pygargus) “C” / Identification of Harriers “C” Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) “C” Adult males gray above and whitish below with black wingtips. Geographic Variation. Perches on low trees and shrubs as well as fence posts. The Cornell Lab will send you updates about birds, birding, and opportunities to help bird conservation. Northern Harriers hunt mostly small mammals and small birds, but they are capable of taking bigger prey like rabbits and ducks. Names (30) Species names in all available languages. Similar Species. Found in open areas such as grasslands, marshes, and fields soaring low over the ground. LC Least Concern. Juvenile males have pale greenish-yellow eyes, while juvenile females have dark chocolate brown eyes. Fossil History. Related Species. Smaller than a Red-tailed Hawk; larger than a Sharp-shinned Hawk. Flies with wings held in a V-shape, low over open fields and marshes, listening for rodents lurking below. Their nests are concealed on the ground in grasses or wetland vegetation. Get Instant ID help for 650+ North American birds. They rely on hearing as well as vision to capture prey. The eye color of both sexes changes gradually to lemon yellow by the time they reach adulthood. Short-eared owls Asio flammeus) hunt the same fields, but in the evening and at night, rather than in the day. Northern Harrier: This large hawk has gray upperparts, white rump, and white underparts with spotted breast. Subspecies. Each gray-and-white male may mate with several females, which are larger and brown. Northern Harrier fossils dating from 11,000 to 40,000 years ago have been unearthed in northern Mexico. Rough-legged hawks are generally larger birds with broader wings, dark wrists, and a white band at the base of the tail. Distribution . Male Northern Harriers can have as many as five mates at once, though most have only one or two. Northern Goshawks hunt with quicker wingbeats than harriers and aren't often found soaring low over fields. Males are gray above and whitish below with black wingtips, a dark trailing edge to the wing, and a black-banded tail. Adult females have whitish undersides with brown streaks, whereas immatures are buffy, with less streaking. At close range, the face of our Northern Harrier looks rather like that of an owl; like an owl (and unlike most other hawks) it may rely on its keen hearing to help it locate prey as it courses low over the fields. Females and immatures are warm brown. Note long tail. Enter Bird's Name in Search Box: www.birds-of-north-america.net: Species; The Northern Harrier (Circus hudsonius), once known as the "Marsh Hawk", it is the only harrier seen in North America. They eat on the ground, and they perch on low posts or trees. Requires open country for hunting. Females are brown above … Northern Harrier. Often flies with its broad wings held in a "V". Systematics History. Calls of the Northern Harrier Additional Photos and Information Immature birds have an unstreaked cinnamon wash on their belly and a darker brown head. Northern Harriers have an owl-like face that helps them detect prey by ear. Northern Harrier Information. In fall through spring, look for harriers in wide-open grasslands, marshes, or fields. Rough-legged hawks are generally larger birds with broader wings, dark wrists, and a white band at the base of the tail. Identification. Northern harriers are unique among Up close it has an owlish face that helps it hear mice and voles beneath the vegetation. The Cornell Lab will send you updates about birds, birding, and opportunities to help bird conservation. Length: 16 - 24" Habitat: In the Northeast: Freshwater marshes, saltwater marshes, wet meadows, sloughs, swamps, open fields. Females are pale below withe brown streaking. white rump patch of northern harriers will lead to a positive identification. In migration and winter, harriers typically move south away from areas that receive heavy snow cover, ending up in open habitats similar to those in which they breed.