My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Northern Harrier

The Northern Harrier is often called a marsh hawk, as marshes are their favorite hunting grounds. They are about the same size as a red-tailed hawk, but the northern harriers have a white band around the base of their tail that makes them relatively easy to identify. Here’s a few interesting facts about northern harriers, they are one of the few raptors to nest on the ground. Also, these are the only hawk-like bird known to practice polygyny, one male mates with several females. When incubating eggs, the female sits on the nest while the male hunts and brings food to her and the chicks. Up to five females have been known to mate with one male in a season. That’s got to keep him busy, feeding that many mouths!

I have to apologize for the photos for this post, they aren’t the greatest, but they do show the manner in which northern harriers hunt for the small mammals that make up the majority of their diet.

Northern Harrier in flight

Northern Harrier in flight

Northern Harrier in flight

Northern Harrier in flight

Northern Harrier in flight

Northern Harrier in flight

Northern Harrier in flight

Northern Harrier in flight

Northern Harrier in flight

Northern Harrier in flight

Northern Harrier in flight

Northern Harrier in flight

Northern Harrier in flight

Northern Harrier in flight

Northern Harrier in flight

Northern Harrier in flight

Male northern harrier

Male northern harrier

Northern harrier in flight

Northern harrier in flight

Northern harrier in flight

Northern harrier in flight

Northern harrier in flight

Northern harrier in flight

Northern harrier in flight

Northern harrier in flight

Northern harrier in flight

Northern harrier in flight

Northern harrier in flight

Northern harrier in flight

 

I do hope to add some better photos soon, but I can’t say when that will be.

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

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8 responses

  1. Good to get these shots.

    January 20, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    • Thanks Tom!

      January 20, 2013 at 6:56 pm

  2. I spend a lot of time in marshy areas so I’ll have to be watching for this one in the spring.

    January 20, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    • You’ll be able to ID them by the way they fly, nothing like a red-tailed hawk.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:56 pm

  3. Another fun fact about the harriers is that they have a facial disk, similar to an owl, to help funnel sound to their ears. Part of why they hunt flying so low to the ground is because they are hunting partially by sound.

    January 23, 2013 at 9:38 am

    • Thanks Galen, I forgot to add that to my post. I’m still trying to sort out how much information to include, as the basic idea for this series of post is for it to be a photographic life list.

      January 23, 2013 at 9:44 am

  4. I like the action in the shots–sometimes a long-shot gives you a better perspective on the bird’s habitat/behavior.

    January 31, 2013 at 8:20 am

    • Thank you. You’re right, I would love to be able to start with both portrait and action shots, but then, I never would get this project started.

      January 31, 2013 at 9:07 am