Old female Juvenile Juvenile

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Pallid Harrier

Circus macrourus

  • Name also: Pale Harrier
  • Family: Hawks – Accipitridae
  • Appearance: A harrier with very long, narrow wings, and a light, springy flight pattern, almost like a tern.
  • Size: Length 40–50 cm (15.5–19.5 in), wingspan 97–118 cm (38–46 in), weight 315–445 g (12.5–18). Female larger than male.
  • Nest: Built of straw and grass on the ground among bushes or in tall grass.
  • Breeding: 3–6 eggs incubated by female for 29–30 days. Young able to fly in 35–45 days.
  • Distribution: Nests in extensive grassland plains or scrubland in SE Europe, and occasionally in Finland. Otherwise a scarce visitor, though seen increasingly in recent years. Finnish breeding population estimated at 0–20 pairs.
  • Migration: Winters in Africa and the Middle East. Migrating birds seen in Finland April–May and Aug–Sept.
  • Diet: Mammals and birds.
  • Calls: Resemble calls of Montagu’s Harrier.
  • Endangerment: Endangered, protected. Globally Near threatened.

Pallid Harriers have very long and narrow wings and tails. Their fifth primary feather is shortened. They look light and lanky. Their flight is light and tern-like, but heavier than a Montagu’s Harrier’s. Mature males resemble male Hen Harriers in colouring, except that the black markings near their wingtips are narrower and wedge-shaped (only black on primaries 2–6), and less glossy on their upper wings. Males have very evenly pale bellies.

Mature Pallid Harrier females also resemble Hen or Montagu’s Harriers. They are best distinguished from female Hen Harriers by their general shape; and from female Montagu’s by their almost uniformly dark brown primary coverts and the denser dark streaking across their underwings. The lighter colouring beneath the markings on their wing coverts also darkens gradually towards their body.

Juvenile Pallid Harriers are darker than mature females, and their underparts are an almost unmarked reddish brown (compared to brown and streaked in juv. Hen Harrier). They are best distinguished from similar young Montagu’s by their pale yellowish unstreaked neckbands. The sides of their necks are a uniform dark brown, contrasting clearly with the white markings around their eyes.

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

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