Bird Families

African Marsh Harrier / Circus ranivorus


Large birds of light build with long, relatively narrow wings (span over a meter) and tail. Feet are comparatively long and thin; tarsus is not feathered. Around the front of the head, there is a ring of hard feathers, giving the birds some resemblance to owls. Males are easily recognizable by their characteristic coloration, females are difficult to distinguish (except for the marsh harrier) and differ from other predators mainly not by the details of the color, but by the manner of flight - alternating smooth flapping of their wings and sliding low above the ground. A hovering bird has slightly raised wings.

Nests of small branches and reed stalks are built on the ground in tall grass or reeds along the banks of water bodies, in fields and clearings. In a clutch of 3-6 white eggs

They hunt mainly in open areas, more or less in accordance with the names of the species. ... In spring, beautiful mating flights of harriers can often be observed.

They feed on rodents, as well as birds, frogs and large insects.

Migratory birds, but in winters with little snow, they can winter in the south of the country.

There are six species in Russia: field harrier, meadow harrier, steppe harrier, piebald harrier, marsh harrier, Asian harrier, of which the field harrier is found most often in the European part of Russia.

Falco Cyaneus. Linnaeus. Syst. Nat. ed. XII, 1766, p. 126, outskirts of London. Russian name. Lun is an old Russian name for whitish birds of prey, but not falcons or hawks. First of all, it refers to whitish or pale-nosed males of the field, meadow or steppe harrier, but in some places in the north, the white owl is called a lune. The species names of harriers - field, meadow, etc. - are book names.

Spread. Areal. Europe and Asia from the borders of the tundra to the Mediterranean countries, M. Asia, Iran, Turkestan, Dzungaria, Mongolia and North. China, also in North. America from the north of Canada to the south. U.S.A. Wintering in the south. and Hall. Europe, in the sowing. Africa, India and China, Western Asia (up to Turkmenistan in the north), North American harriers winter from the south. states and further to Colombia, Cuba and the Bahamas.

The nature of the stay. In the southern part of the range it is a resident or nomadic bird, in the north, in particular in the USSR, it is a migratory bird.

Biotope. Open landscapes - fields, meadows of river valleys, forest moss bogs, steppe and forest-steppe, both on the plains and in the mountains.

Subspecies and varying traits. Two subspecies - in the Old World S. p. cyaneus L., 1766. all in. America S. s. hudsonius L., 1766. Differences in coloration (in the American subspecies, males with streaks on the peritoneal side, young birds are colored darker than European-Asian ones, the geographic variability of color pronounced in males is a phenomenon characteristic of some species of harriers). Environmental differences are small.

Common Harrier Circus cyaneus cyaneus L.

Synonyms. Circus taissiae. Buturlin J. f. Orn., 1908, p. 283, Srednekolymsk. - Circus cyaneus cernuus. Тhaуer and. Вangs. Proceed. N. Engl. Zool. Club. V, 1914, p. 32, the lower reaches of the Kolyma.

Spread. Areal. North. Europe and Asia. In Norway up to 69 ° 30 ', in Sweden up to 68 ° 30' N. sh., in the southern part of the Timan tundra (Gladkov, 1941), in the Bolshezemelskaya tundra (Chernaya river), but regularly in the Pechora only up to 65 °. on the Ob at least up to 67 °, along the Yenisei to the Arctic Circle and probably further north, in the Vilyui basin at least up to 65 ° (Mayak, 1886), on Indigirka, still at 67 ° 30 '(Mikhel, 1937), on the Kolyma near Nizhnekolymsk (Tayer and Banthe, 1914), recorded in the middle reaches of the Anadyr, also on

Kamchatka, on the Okhotsk coast, Shantar Islands, Sakhalin, probably on the Kuril Islands, in Hokkaido. Southern border - in the middle parts of Portugal, north. Spain, sowing. Italy, Yugoslavia (Serbia), Albania, Romania, in the Crimea, on the Volga near Buzuluk and Buguruslan, in the Transcaucasus, M. Asia, Iran, Turkmenistan (Kopet-Dag), then in Dzungaria, Mongolia (to the south.Alashan), in the south. Manchuria and Korea. South of the middle reaches of the Urals, in Kazakhstan and Turkestan, it does not nest (the harrier is not nesting already north of Lake Ak-Tasty-kul and at the headwaters of Ilek, Sushkin, 1908), in Altai it nests, apparently, on the outskirts. Harvested during non-breeding season on the Commander Islands - in February on Bering Island (Shulpin, 1936). In winter, in sowing. Africa (north to the Sahara, perhaps in Kordofans, Nubia, Somalia, Egypt), Western Asia, in Iran to Zagrosh, Seistan, in Baluchistan, in India, Burma and in China (to Yunnan and the lower reaches of the Yanjie), also in West ... and knives. Europe. In the USSR, in winter, it was mined in Turkmenistan, on the Syrdarya and in other parts of Turkestan, apparently in the lower reaches of the Volga, in the Transcaucasus (Armenia), in the Crimea, in the south. Primorye, in mild winters with little snow - in the Ukraine (Uman), even further north, in Belarus (Polesie, Tsedlitz, 1920: Shnitnikov, 1913).

The nature of the stay. In zap. n south. In Europe, it is sedentary and nomadic, in the east and north of the range it is migratory, although there (see above) some individuals overwinter in the breeding area.

Dates. The field harrier migrates earlier in the spring than that of the meadow and steppe harrier. In Central Asia, the movement to the north was noted already in February (Syr-Darya, Turkmenistan), a noticeable flight there in March, but also stretches in April (apparently, northern populations). In late March - early April, the spring migration takes place in Ukraine, in the middle zone of European Russia it falls mainly in the first half of April, and in the north of it and in Siberia, the field harrier appears in late April and early May (Salair, arrival on 25. IV: near Krasnoyarsk at the end of April - beginning of May st., On Vilyuya 29.V, Maak, 1886, near Yakutsk 28. IV-lV, according to Vorobyova, 1931, 25-28.IV, according to Ivanov, 1929, on Shantarskikh islands 5. V, Dulkeit and Shulpin, 1937, in the upper reaches of the Kolyma in early May), however, in the south-east. Siberia - in Transbaikalia and Primorye - in early April. Autumn departure and flight in the north and in the middle lane begins already in August, but mainly in September, in the middle lane it continues in October, ending around the middle of this month, in Central Asia, flight and flight continues in November (Syr-Darya , Turkmenistan). During the spring migration, harriers fly mostly singly, closer to nesting sites and in pairs, in autumn - singly, in pairs and small groups. There are observations that in the spring, at first - two weeks or at least one week earlier than females - males appear (Kiev obl.).

Biotope. Open areas - fields, meadows, river valleys, even forest moss bogs and burnt-out areas, tundra (shrub, Kolyma, Timan), steppes and forest-steppe. On migration it also occurs in deserts. In vertical terms, mainly on the plains and in the foothills, but also in the mountainous steppe (Caucasus, Kopet-Dag, Elburs, Tien Shan, etc.). In the Caucasus, up to 2700 m (Satunnn, 1912), in the Altai up to 2300 m (Sushkin, 1938), in Central Asia, in places up to the alpine zone (Tien Shan).

The number. Biotopic conditions make the distribution of the field harrier somewhat sporadic: therefore it does not nest, apparently in Tajikistan, in the north-west. Kazakhstan to the south of the Aman-Karagai pine forest and Lake Ak-tasty-kul (Sushkin, 1908), in the south. parts of Primorye, in the zone of continuous forests and among the taiga, in the desert, etc. In the cultural and semi-cultural landscape of central European Russia, in some places in the West. Siberia - Harrier is quite common. In Zap. In Europe, the number of harriers has decreased, this bird is not nesting in Denmark, it has become very small in Holland, Belgium, England and Scotland (but it regularly nests in the Hebrides and Ireland). Periodic fluctuations in numbers have not been precisely established (like in other harriers).

Ecology. Reproduction. Puberty occurs before the final outfit is reached. Mating begins with arrival, in the middle lane from mid-April, when mating flight is observed. Nests are placed on the ground, in fields, meadows, dry swamps. Their average size is about 50 cm, rarely up to 80 cm with a height of 30 cm (Uman, Gebel, 1879). Nests made of grass, small twigs, etc. with a shallow tray, are very clean, since the female cleans the nest, taking out food debris, pellets, etc. from it.Clutch is laid around mid-May, with no geographical differences between populations in terms of clutch timing could be established. In a clutch of 3-5 eggs, rarely 6 (Zarudny, 1888). It is not known if there are fluctuations in fertility depending on the feeding conditions of the breeding season. The color of eggs is most often white, monochromatic, less often slightly mottled with small brown specks. Egg sizes (4) 42.5-44x35-37, average 43.2x36.5 mm (Uman, Gebel, 1889), (100) 40-52.1x32-38, average 46.23x36.13 mm (Wiserby, 1939 ). Only the female incubates, from the first egg, since the chicks are very different in age. Between parents there is a strict separation of the functions of caring for offspring. The female warms the chicks and sits at the nest, furnishes them with food, the male hunts and brings food, as the chicks grow, the female begins to take part in obtaining food for them. Downy chicks hatch from the beginning of June, hatching, therefore, lasts about one month, flying juveniles are found in the second half or mid-July, the nesting period lasts about 6 weeks.

Molting. It is insufficiently studied and occurs in a significant part during the winter. Birds from arrival in fresh plumage (April), but young in the first annual (nesting) plumage only with an admixture of fresh feathers. Adults molt from July to October, but often molt is delayed later and generally occurs less regularly in some individuals than usually in other birds of prey. The sequence of changing the primary flywheels is typical for the family, from the rear edge of the party to the front, that is, from the 10th to the 1st. The helmsmen molt centrifugally, from the middle pair, the outer pairs may be without a strict sequence. The sequence of changing outfits: the first downy outfit - the second downy outfit - the first annual (nest) outfit - the second annual outfit (for males, transitional, for females, possibly final) - the third annual (final) outfit, etc.

Food. The structure of the harrier reflects the methods of hunting used by him - searching for prey on the ground in open spaces. The weight of the harrier is relatively small, the wingspan is significant, the bearing surface of the wings is very large, the tail is long and wide. The tarsus are long, resembling those of a hawk (seizing prey among the grass, etc.), but the fingers are short with weak, albeit sharp claws (attacks only on small animals). In accordance with all this, there are also ways of hunting harriers: they do not soar, but easily and quietly fly at a low altitude above the ground, following the relief of the soil and unexpectedly appearing above the prey itself. Having flown up to it, the harrier rushes with outstretched paws, often making dexterous turns.

The food of the harrier is primarily small mammals, but also - especially during the flight and nesting period - birds nesting on the ground, their chicks and eggs, in addition, lizards, insects and sometimes carrion. As food objects of the harrier in the USSR are indicated: from animals, ground squirrels, mice, voles, pies (Eruslanskaya steppe), mice (Vilyui), various rodents, for example, Sterlocranius gregalis, Mictotus ungurensis (Transbaikalia), from birds, - chicks of coastal swallows (Kaysky district, Gorky region), domestic pigeon (Dzaudzhikau), larks, skates, ducklings (Chkalov), tap dancers and ryums on flight (Vilyui), skates Anthus richardi and A. campestris, larks, wagtails, quail (Transbaikalia), lizards, insects, mainly Orthoptera, also beetles and ants.

Field signs. Sizes are medium, light build, long wings and a long, straight truncated tail. The male is pale-nosed on the dorsal side, whitish on the ventral side, with black wing tips, the female is brownish on the dorsal side, whitish with brown longitudinal spots on the ventral side. The white uppertail distinguishes the field harrier from other harriers of a similar color. The flight is light and smooth, with slow flapping of the wings - the tops of the primary flight feathers are slightly apart and bent upward. Voice "gi-gi-gi" or a rattling sound like "piirr", like other harriers.

Description. Dimensions and structure. It is inferior in size from our harriers only to marsh harriers, larger than steppe and meadow ones, with relatively short wings that do not reach the top of the tail. Wing formula 4 => 3> 2 => 5> 6> 1> 7.Cutouts on the outer webs of the 2nd - 5th flywheels, while the cutout on the 2nd flywheel is covered by the brush coverts. On the inner webs of the flight feathers there are notches on the 1st - 4th feathers. The length of males (20) 445-515, females (20) 490-564, on average 475.2 and 531.1 mm. The span of males (20) 990-1060, females (16) 1100-1215, on average 1025 and 1146.7 mm. Weight of males (4) 300, 350, 360, 400, females (3) 480, 500, 600 g. Wing of males (50) 330-358, females (50) 355-396, on average 341.54 and 372.8 mm. O to r a c to a. The first downy outfit is white with a grayish-buffy bloom and a dark spot near the eye. The second downy outfit is buffy-grayish with a reddish bloom on the back and chest.

The first annual along with both sexes is the same: on the dorsal side it is dark brown with ocher edges of feathers, on the nape of the head there are whitish spots, the upper tail is white, the flight feathers are dark brown with whitish bases of the inner webs and a dark transverse pattern, the middle tail feathers are gray-brown with a dark transverse pattern, the lateral pairs are buffy with brownish transverse stripes, the ventral side is reddish-buffy with a brownish longitudinal pattern.

Females in the second annual plumage and subsequent ones are like young birds, but the edges of the feathers on the dorsal side are less developed, and the general tone of the ventral side is whitish, without a reddish tint. Males in the second annual (transitional) plumage are distinguished by the strong development of longitudinal spots on the ventral side and the general grayish tone of the dorsal side.

Males in the third annual (final) plumage on the dorsal side are gray-gray with a silvery bloom, with a white upper tail, the anterior primary flight feathers with a black apex, the rest are gray-gray, all with whitish bases of the inner webs, the middle tail feathers are gray, the lateral ones are gray on the outer webs, white with brownish streaks on the inner webs, the ventral side is white, only the throat and goiter, and sometimes the chest, are gray-gray, occasionally there are small streaks on the abdomen and sides. The eyes of the young are brown, the old ones are yellow, the wax and legs are yellow, the beak is black with a bluish tinge, the claws are black. Noteworthy is the fact that the course of age-related changes is faster than that of the steppe and meadow harrier.


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  • »Looney

# 1 16 March 2008 23:31:32

I propose to discuss here the harriers and the harrier and crane hawks close to them.

Field harrier

Despite its relatively small size, there was a New Zealand harrier the size of an average eagle.
Also, harriers, like most falcons, do not eat carrion.

Re: Looney

What characterizes the harrier?

# 3 17 March 2008 17:45:24

Re: Looney

Long slender legs, long wings and a long tail. Maneuverable, fly low and slowly, slightly raising their wings, alternating occasional smooth flapping and soaring (rather gliding). If they spot prey, they rapidly fall down. They have a kind of facial disk made of hard feathers, which makes them look like owls.

Harrier balotny (Ranei - Myshalo balotny)

Photo © lst (Stas & Lana) on Brest district, Belarus. CC BY-NC 4.0

The whole territory of Belarus

Family Hawk - Accipitridae

In Belarus - C. a. aeruginosus (subspecies inhabits the entire European part of the species range).

Common breeding, migratory and transit migratory species. Widely distributed, common in most of the territory. At present, it is one of the most numerous birds of prey in the Lake District, second only to the buzzard in number.

Young individual. Photo by Vladimir Bondar, Mogilev district

The largest of our harriers. The adult male is colored quite contrastingly: ocher head, dark brown back, shoulder and flight feathers. Lesser wing coverts are buffy with dark streaks, underparts are rufous, tail feathers are gray. The female is more monochromatic, dark brown, with buffy feathers on the crown and back of the head. The plumage of young individuals is similar to that of an adult female. The beak of all birds is black, the wax and paws are yellow. There are fledglings of a monochromatic dark variation ("unicolor"). They are distinguished by a dark “cap” on the head, some have several white flight feathers in the wing. The weight of the male is 405-667 g, of the female is 603-850 g. The body length of the male is 49-54, of the female is 52-60 cm. The wingspan of the male is 105-130, of the female is 122-142 cm.

Julia Pivovarova, Kobrin district (Brest region)

Arrives in late March - early April in spring.More than other harriers is associated with water bodies, although it hunts both near water and in dry places - over swamps, meadows and even fields. During the hunt, smooth active flight alternates with long glide. The rush to prey is especially characteristic: the bird, pausing on the fly, raises up its unfolded wings and, lowering its legs, falls vertically downward.

Inhabits vast swampy areas with developed vegetation and overgrown water bodies. The favorite and most typical nesting sites are reed beds on large lakes, reservoirs, fish ponds, and less often in bays and river estuaries. It can also settle in low-lying bogs and ameliorative peat bogs with patches of water among thickets of willow and reed.

The formation of nesting pairs is completed mainly by the beginning of May. At the beginning of the nesting period of marsh harriers, it is often possible to observe their mating games, during which the male and female, rising high in the air, make complex pirouettes and turns, and then dive down, while often giving a voice - a nasal squeak “piyu”. piyu. ".

Mating games. Photo by Vladimir Bondar, Mogilev district

It usually nests in single pairs. However, sometimes several pairs settle on the same reservoir, but at a considerable distance from one another. The nest usually suits among the water on a small float, creases of dry reed or cattail stalks, on a hummock, less often on a shallow, but usually surrounded by high emerging vegetation, occasionally on the ground in wetlands among dense thickets, as an exception, among a colony of large toadstools and coots on a hummocky shallow, almost devoid of vegetation.

Adult birds actively protect the nesting area from the hooded crow, magpie, common buzzard, goshawk, gray heron, neighboring harriers and other birds. In case of loss of chicks, the males of the Marsh Harrier usually stop protecting their nesting territory the next day, and neighboring birds begin to hunt it. One of the main reasons for unsuccessful nesting is the destruction of nests by humans.

Marsh Harriers are distinguished by their pronounced nesting conservatism. Pairs annually occupy the same natural boundaries, building new nests 10–40 m from last year's ones. Several cases were noted when birds occupied the same nest for two years in a row.

Male. Photo by Vladimir Bondar, Mogilev district

The nest is a rather loose, carelessly constructed structure. It is relatively flat when placed on a hummock, raft, or creases of plants and is much more massive, in the form of a truncated cone in shallow places on the water. The building material is mainly dry stems of coastal vegetation, primarily reeds, often also tree branches, sometimes cattails, reeds and some other plants. The tray is lined with sedge, reed panicles, as well as dry leaves of reed and cattail; once even a whole nest of Remez was found in the lining. Occasionally, a bird brings building material for adjusting the nest already in the presence of masonry in it. Nest height 15-35 cm, diameter 40-80 cm, tray depth 3-7 cm, diameter 18-25 cm.

Vladimir Bondar, Mogilev district

A clutch usually consists of 4-5 eggs, much less often of 3 or 6 (in Europe, outside the territory of the republic, clutches of 7 and 8 eggs are very rare). The shell is dull, bluish or greenish in color, monotonous, only occasionally with faint pale brown specks. Egg weight 38 g, length 49 mm (44-52 mm), diameter 38 mm (36-40 mm).

The appearance of clutches is observed at the very end of April and in the first half of May. Separate fresh clutches, probably repeated, can also be found in the first half of June. One brood per year. The female incubates for 32-38 days, only in very rare cases it can be replaced by the male.During the period of incubation by the female of the clutch, and then in the presence of chicks in the nest (May - June), the male Marsh Harrier brings food from 8 to 20 hours.

Vladimir Bondar, Mogilev district

Begins to hunt 3-4 hours after sunrise and finishes hunting approximately 2-3 hours before sunset. The duration of the hunt is due to the abundance and availability of food on the day of observation. The male usually brings the prey directly to the nest or throws it in the air to the female. Sometimes he sits not far from the nest, and the female flies to him for prey. The amount of food delivered per day depends on the number of chicks in the nest. In the first 11–16 days after hatching of the chicks, the female does not leave the nest, when the chicks begin to fledge, the female is already flying after the prey, hunting in the central part of the hunting area. Chicks leave the nest at the age of 35-40 days, but fly well only from the age of 55 days. Fledglings return to the nest within 10–12 days after leaving the nest, where adult birds feed them. The young who have flown out spend a lot of time sitting on the bushes, waiting for their parents to appear with food. Seeing them, they rush to meet them and, screaming, chase after adult birds until they throw their prey to them. Young from early broods try to hunt on their own as early as July. Almost as early as September, broods are kept in the area of ​​their nesting sites.

Vladimir Bondar, Mogilev district

Autumn migration occurs from September, but individual individuals can be found in October. In recent years, cases of wintering of this species in the southwestern region have been known.

It actively obtains food in the process of hunting, flying over wetlands, water, thickets of aquatic and near-aquatic vegetation. Females usually have a smaller set of hunting stations than males. When hunting, females first survey a small area by shuttle flights, and males fly in most cases in a straight line. The hunting efficiency in females is 8-20%, in males 6-14%. Males of the Marsh Harrier hunt at a distance of 0.8-1.7 km from the nest, the area of ​​hunting grounds is 1.3-3.8 km². Females hunt at a distance of 0.7-1.6 km from the nest, the area of ​​their hunting area is 0.6-2.5 km².

The food spectrum of the Marsh Harrier is wider than that of the meadow and field harrier. He also hunts for mouse-like rodents - voles, mice, water rats. But very often birds also become its prey - both small passerines and larger waterfowl, including chicks of ducks, coots, moors. Destroys bird nests, can catch a muskrat. Causes some damage to hunting grounds.

Vladimir Bondar. Bykhovsky district (Mogilev region)

In the most favorable years, in some natural boundaries, neighboring pairs nest at 300–800 m from each other. It was during this nesting that cases of polygyny were noted, when one male nested with two females at once.

The nest of the Marsh Harrier was found in the colony of the Greater Grebe on the Snudy Lake, Braslav District. The colony consisted of 46 nests of the great grebe and 2 nests of the coot. The nearest nests of the Greater Grebe were located 5 and 7 m from the nest of the Marsh Harrier. In two cases, nests of a large bittern were located at 25 and 40 m. A nesting of meadow harriers was noted 200–300 m from the nests of the Marsh Harrier.

The number of this species in Belarus is estimated at 6-9 thousand pairs, while in the last 10 years there has been a tendency to increase. In Poozerie, the number is stable and is estimated at 2,600-2,700 breeding pairs (2017). 70 nests were examined. In unbroken broods, 2–5 fledglings were recorded, on average 2.56 ± 1.52 fledglings per active nest and 3.04 ± 1.11 fledglings per successful nest. Breeding success before hatching is 84.6%.

Threats: During the hunting season for wetland game, this species is often shot by poachers.

The maximum age registered in Europe is 20 years 1 month.

Vladimir Bondar. Mogilev district Vladimir Bondar. Bykhov district (Mogilev region) Vladimir Bondar. Bykhovsky district (Mogilev region)

Mating games.Photo by Vladimir Bondar, Mogilev district

Young individual. Photo by Vladimir Bondar, Mogilev district

Vladimir Bondar. Mogilev district Elena Kitaeva, Volkovysk district (Grodno region)

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