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© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki, M., W. & F. von Wright: Pohjolan linnut värikuvin. Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.

Marsh Harrier

Circus aeruginosus

  • Name also: Western Marsh-harrier
  • Family: Hawks – Accipitridae
  • Appearance: A large hawk with long wings and tail. Soars with wings in V-shaped profile. Male light brown, female a darker rusty brown.
  • Size: Length 43–55 cm 17–21.5 in), wingspan 115–140 cm (45–55 in), weight 480–750 g (19–30 oz).
  • Nest: Large nest basically made of dry branches, lined inside with dry reed fragments, usually among old reed-beds.
  • Breeding: 3–7 eggs laid from mid May, incubated by female for 30–38 days. Young birds able to fly within 42–56 days.
  • Distribution: Nests in extensive reed-beds with shallow water. Finnish population estimated at 600–800 pairs.
  • Migration: Winters in Southern Europe and Africa. Migration begins as early as August. Returns in April.
  • Diet: Preys on frogs, young birds, small mammals and insects
  • Calls: Mating call during courtship display flight a harsh scream, like Common Gull; warning call a shrill “kvi-kvi-kvi…”

Mature male Marsh Harriers have pale grey wings and tail, and black wingtips. Marsh Harriers are generally very pale coloured, and can be confused with Hen Harriers, though they can be recognised by the brown colouring of their wing coverts, backs and bellies. Mature females are generally dark brown in colouring, without the spotted markings of or white rump of other female harriers. Mature Marsh harriers have yellowish caps and throats, as well as a stripe over their eyes extending to their beak. Juveniles are blackish brown with rusty yellow throat and cap. Marsh Harriers have yellow legs, and their beaks are mainly black with a blue-grey base and a dull yellow cere. Males have yellowish white irises, while females’ eyes are browner.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

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