Harriers are birds of prey often associated with the world's wetlands: marshes, swamps and bogs. Most birds patrol low over this open ground hunting small mammals, reptiles and birds. Nests are made in the dense vegetation on the ground. Many of the 14 species in this group, such as the pallid harrier and Montagu's harrier, are migratory and move to warmer climates for the winter. Some species, such as the African marsh harrier, remain in their breeding territories all year.
Scientific name: Circus
The shading illustrates the diversity of this group - the darker the colour the greater the number of species. Data provided by WWF's Wildfinder.
The following habitats are found across the Harriers distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.
Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.
Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web
A harrier is any of the several species of diurnal hawks forming the Circinae sub-family of the Accipitridae family of birds of prey. Harriers characteristically hunt by flying low over open ground, feeding on small mammals, reptiles, or birds.
Most harriers are placed in the genus Circus, the scientific name arising from the circling movements female and male make when courting. Two other harriers are in the genus Polyboroides, the harrier-hawks, which are allopatric (geographically separated) and restricted to the Afrotropic ecozone. The remaining single species forms the monotypic genus Geranospiza.
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.