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Great shot, Steve. Birds connect us with the joy and wonder of nature. Change ). By telling vivid, sound-rich stories about birds and the challenges they face, BirdNote inspires listeners to care about the natural world – and take steps to protect it. But since it was early, I doubt that he was 'thinking' about enticing yet another mate. I like these images not just because they are of a harrier. A harrier beats its wings infrequently as it coasts along, so slowly at times that it appears almost about to stall and fall to the ground. Northern Harriers hunt mostly small mammals and small birds, but they are capable of taking bigger prey like rabbits and ducks. They specialize in flying very slowly at low altitude, sometimes just a few feet above the ground. I like how the nearly monochromatic overall scheme contrasts with the harrier’s brilliant yellow eyes, the base of its beak, and its legs, and feet. As it flies it looks downward, searching for small rodents. Adult female harriers have brown and beige plumage with boldly marked pale breasts. Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Both adult male and female harriers have bright yellow eyes. Becky says: "Northern Harrier males may have more than one mate during their breeding season, so he'll probably be a busy boy once nesting starts. ( Log Out /  However, on closer examination, I believe that it is a young male in the process of transitioning to adult plumage. When it spots one it dives precipitously, dropping onto its prey and seizing it with its talons. Click again for a full screen image. Becky says: "Northern Harrier males may have more than one mate during their breeding season, so he'll probably be a busy boy once nesting starts. Juveniles of both sexes are dark brown with rusty colored breasts. During the winter season, when we have so many raptors in our area on the Samish Flats, I am out looking to see what I can see most weekends. Males are gray above and whitish below with black wingtips, a dark trailing edge to the wing, and a black-banded tail. There are harriers in Europe as well and, although there is some dispute, they are generally considered to be of the same species as the North American bird. Young may move short distances away from nest after about a week, but return to nest to be fed; are able to fly at about 30-35 days. After young are about 2 weeks old, female does much of the hunting for them. ( Log Out /  Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Adult females have whitish undersides with brown streaks, whereas immatures are buffy, with less streaking. He stopped the car and that allowed me to get several images of the bird from Ned’s car’s open window before the harrier flew off. I’ll post those in a day or two. This bird, at first glance, appears to be a female. The photos were taken in December 2010, so it was probably too early for the male harrier to be using the carcass for pair bonding. ( Log Out /  Ned graciously forewent his chance of photographing the bird. But since it was early, I doubt that he was 'thinking' about enticing yet another mate. Juveniles of both sexes are dark brown with rusty colored breasts. The male provides most of the food for his mates and their offspring, while the females incubate the eggs and brood the chicks. Northern Harriers’ range includes all of North America. Check out this BirdNote show -- and video -- about harriers' "sky-dancing!". Bottom line is that the more that you’re out there, the more you are going to see. Adult males are colored a silvery gray (birders refer to adult males as “Gray Ghosts). Females are brown above with varying degrees of brown and buff streaking below. But I didn’t even notice the band until I downloaded the shots … I was obviously too interested in watching the birds and their interactions at the time!". They have a distinctive appearance with dished owl-like faces, lean bodies, and very long wings. Adult female harriers have brown and beige plumage with boldly marked pale breasts. Female harrier on the left, male on the right .... Whatcha got there? ( Log Out /  The markings on its breast aren’t as bold as those of an adult female and I believe that I can see at least a hint of gray in some of the feathers on the harrier’s outer wing and on his head and throat. These beautiful raptors are extremely skittish around people and will often fly off at just the sight of a photographer. The sexes also differ in weight, with males weighing 290 to 400 g (10 to 14 oz), with an average of 350 g (12 oz), and females weighing 390 to 750 g (14 to 26 oz), with an average of 530 g (19 oz). ", When the time does come for Northern Harriers to breed, they put on quite a display. Becky says, "I simply lucked into the situation of seeing the two birds. These birds hunt on the wing. Learn how your comment data is processed. Both adult male and female harriers have bright yellow eyes. We spotted the harrier sitting on a post a few yards off the road. Females and immatures are brown, with black bands on the tail. You'll see that the female is banded. My friend Ned Harris and I were cruising a highway in grasslands about 45 miles southeast of Tucson. I can never get one perched. Adult males are colored a silvery gray (birders refer to adult males as “Gray Ghosts). But I didn’t even notice the band until I downloaded the shots … A couple of days after I made these images I had the extreme good fortune of capturing some very nice images of a juvenile harrier in flight. In fact, he seemed to have no intention of sharing his catch. Ned was driving and I was in the front passenger seat. Harriers are unusual in that there is a greater difference between male and female plumage than is typical of raptors. Northern Harrier, male: Northern Harrier, juvenile, at sunset: Northern Harrier, juvenile: Northern Harrier, juvenile: Northern Harrier, female: Northern Harrier, female: Northern Harrier, female: Northern Harrier, female: Northern Harrier, female: Northern Harrier, female: Northern Harrier, female: Northern Harrier, male: Northern Harrier, juvenile: Northern Harrier, overhead: Northern Harrier with Avocet Chick. I had some question about this bird’s gender. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. Female remains with young most of time at first; male brings food and delivers it to female, who feeds it to young. Harriers are raptors in their own genus and are not closely related to hawks or falcons. Western Washington resident, Becky Rosencrans, was fortunate to see the following interaction between male and female Northern Harriers. A few days ago, however, I was able to photograph a young male of this species. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Images made with a Canon 5Div, 400mm f4 DO II lens+1.4x telextender, aperture priority setting, ISO 1000, f5.6 @ 1/1250. The northern harrier is 41–52 cm (16–20 in) long with a 97–122 cm (38–48 in) wingspan. Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. Their flight is glider-like. Among standard measurements, the wing chord is 32.8 to 40.6 cm (12.9 to 16.0 in), the tail is 19.3 to 25.8 cm (7.6 to 10.2 in) and the tarsusis 7.1 to 8.9 cm (2.8 to 3… I feel so lucky, blessed even, that I get to live in an area that draws in such a large number of these wonderful avian critters during the sometimes dark, damp days of our Pacific Northwest winter. 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