Northern Harrier Hawk
Circus cyaneus

The Northern Harrier Hawk, also known as the Marsh Hawk, is my favorite hawk species. Harriers get their name from their hunting method of flying low over the surface of fields in measured patterns. They will pounce upon rodents, frogs, lizards, and snakes. Small birds which make the mistake of flying at a Harrier's approach will be taken by the hawk flipping upside down in flight and impaling the bird's soft belly.

Harriers are among our larger native species. They have long wings and tail. A large white rump is an identifying feature which can be easily observed in flight. Males are gray above and females are brown above. Harriers are winter residents only in South Carolina. Breeding occurs in the more northern states and Canada.

Harrier Hawk, female (above)

Harrier Hawk, female, showing white rump feathers (above)

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December 21, 2009
Contact: Gene Ott