Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Northern Harrier Circus cyaneus

Northern Harrier Circus cyaneus This is a common raptor of marshlands, prairies, and open, grassy areas. The Northern Harrier hunts on the wing, flying great distances every day in its search for mice and other small animals. Like owls, this bird uses its sharp hearing to locate its prey. Formerly known as the Marsh Hawk, the Northern Harrier is a skillful flyer, and the male performs a magnificent courtship display.

Identification 16-24". Slim, with long wings and tail. Male light gray above, whitish with small reddish flecks below; tail obscurely barred. Female brown above with brownish streaks below. Both sexes have prominent white rump. Immature brown above, rusty below.

Voice Usually silent; a chattering kee-kee-kee near nest.

Habitat Grasslands, marshes, and open fields.

Range Breeds from Alaska to N. Alberta and eastward to Newfoundland; south to S. California, N. New Mexico, Ohio, and Virginia. Winters from Washington, N. Utah, Great Lakes region, and New England south to Mexico and Florida.

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