British Columbia Outdoor Wilderness Guide
Circus cyaneus or Marsh Hawk
Description - The Northern Harrier is a long-winged,
long-tailed hawk that is usually seen gliding unsteadily
over marshes with its wings held in a shallow V. The rump
is white and the wing tips black; the male has a pale
grey back, head and breast and the female and young are
brown above and streaked below. It is a usually silent
bird but at the nest it utters a "kee-kee-kee-kee" or
a sharp whistle.
Distribution - The Northern Harrier hawk occurs throughout
all of North America, breeding as far south as California
and wintering from South America to British Columbia.
It prefers marshes and open grasslands.
Biology - The Northern Harrier hawk hunts its prey,
which includes mice, rats and frogs, by flying close to
the ground and taking these small animals by surprise.
They lay 4 or 5 pale blue or white eggs on a mound of
dead reeds and grass in a marsh or shrubby meadow.