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Raptors

Characteristics of the Different Raptor Families

Hawk Families

Harriers
  • There are 10 species of harriers worldwide; only one species in North America, the northern harrier.

  • The Northern harrier is sometimes called a “marsh hawk.”

  • The Northern harrier is a medium-sized, slim raptor with long legs and tail.

  • They live in open areas, often hunting in fields, meadows, or marshes.

  • This raptor has a distinctive hunting flight called “coursing”, where they fly low over the ground following the contours of the land and holding the wings in a V-shape.

  • It has a white rump patch at the base of the upper tail.

  • Unlike other diurnal raptors, this bird has a facial disk which helps to direct sound to the ears.

  • This raptor is a ground nester.

  • Diet consists of rodents, small birds, and insects.

  • Most species are reverse sexually dimorphic - meaning that the female is larger in size and brown and white in color, and the male is smaller in size and gray and white in color.

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Northern Harrier - NPS photo

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