Bird of the Week - The Northern Harrier
The Northern Harrier is is a slender, medium-sized raptor with a long, barred tail and distinctive white rump and it is the
only harrier in North America. Harriers have an owl-like facial disk that allows them to hunt by sound as well as by sight." Unlike most other hawks, it may rely on its keen hearing to help it locate
prey as it courses low over the fields. Their diet consists mostly of small mammals and birds.
Northern Harriers are one of the rare birds where the male and female are quite different in coloring and easily identified.
"Males are gray above and whitish below with black wingtips, a dark trailing edge to the wing, and a black-banded tail. Females and immatures are brown, with black bands on the tail. Adult females
have whitish undersides with brown streaks. All Northern Harriers have a white rump patch that is obvious in flight." And here are a few other facts for you:
• Northern Harriers are the only hawk-like birds where one male mates with several females.
• Nicknamed the “Gray Ghost”, the male Harrier is ..well..a ghost. Hard to find and harder to photograph.
• The Northern Harrier is capable of speeds up to 38 mph of sustained, horizontal speed in pursuit of prey.
• The common name, Harrier, is from the Old English word “herigan” which means to harass or plunder.