Thursday, 16 February 2012

Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus)

Latin Etymology: Circus (bird named for circling flight) cyaneus ("dark blue/sea blue")
Adult female Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneusat Oare Marshes, Kent - February 2012

Featured Subspecies: N/A
Weight: 290-750g  /  Length: 41-52cm  /  Wingspan: 97-122cm
UK RED LIST / IUCN Red List: Least Concern

One of the three Harrier species found in the UK, the Hen Harrier is more common than the similar looking Montague's, but is arguably the single most persecuted species of bird in Britain.  This is mainly as a result of it feeding on Red Grouse on shooting estates making it very unpopular with Game Keepers, some of whom will shoot, trap or poison them.  As such, it is apparently the bird species most likely to go Extinct in England.  It barely breeds in England at all, its main strongholds being Scotland, Wales and the Isle of Mann, but birds Winter in suitable habitat in England - often moors, farmland and marshes.  As such, if you want to find them in England, it's best to look in Winter.

Related Species:
Family: Accipitridae
Genus: Circus
Subspecies: none - monotypic

 - Sighting Locations -
UNITED KINGDOM - Rare breeding species (617 pairs) and scarce Wintering species Migrant
 - Wintering female seen at Oare Marshes in 2012 
SPAIN - Spanish - Aguilucho p├ílido ("Pale Harrier")
Uncommon Wintering species
 - MADRID 2015 TRIP: A pair seen in the farmlands around Madrid

Further Notes: BirdForum OpusIUCN Red ListRSPBWikipedia, Xeno-canto


  1. hi Alex
    There should be loads on the hills I can see from here but there aren't!

    Please ask your UK readers to sign this petition to get the law strengthened as in Scotland if they haven't already.


  2. I'd definitly agree with that - anyone reading this should head over and sign that right away so that hopefully in the future, these birds aren't such a rare sight!