Northern Harrier

Peak Migration: Sept – Oct
Record Daily High: 216 on 17 Sep 1994
Record Seasonal High: 1,100 in 1999

The name “harrier” comes from its habit of raiding or harrying its prey.

Other names: Marsh hawk, blue hawk, frog hawk, hen-harrier, mouse hawk, white-rumped hawk.

Hunting habits: Eats mainly mice, rats, frogs, snakes, lizards, crayfishes, insects, small birds, and carrion. Sometimes hovers in front of prairie fires to catch escaping mice.

Migration habits: Often flies uncharacteristically high. May be seen soaring in kettles with buteos. Males migrate slightly later, on average, than females.

Nesting habits: Nests on the ground. Lays an average of 5 eggs. Female incubates for about a month. Young fly when about a month old.

Length: 41-50 cm

Wingspan: 97-122 cm

Weight: Males average 346 grams; females 496 grams. In the world of raptors, females are bigger, stronger, and usually more aggressive than males.

Life expectancy: Banded birds have lived over 16 years.

Image Credits: Michael Furtman