Northern Harrier Circus hudsonius


The Northern Harrier occurs in the Neotropics only as a non-breeding visitor from the United States and Canada. It occurs in open, grassy habitats, both dry and wet, from Mexico south to Colombia and Venezuela and in the Caribbean. It is a lanky raptor with a long tail, long wings, long legs, and a small head with an owl-like, anteriorally-flattened face. Adult males are gray overall with a white belly, some mottling above, and barring on the tail. Adult females are brown and heavily-streaked below. Immatures are similar to females, but have cinnamon tones on the belly and less streaking below. All plumages display a characteristic white rump. It feeds largely on rodents, which it captures by flying slowly wings held up in a dihedral and listening for movement, then dropping into the grass to seize prey. Birds nest on the ground, sometimes in loose colonies, and may be polygynous in some areas.

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© Michael Andersen

  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding

Recommended Citation

Northern Harrier (Circus hudsonius), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: