Marsh Harrier in flight over reed bed

Marsh harrier

Marsh harriers are slow fliers and can remain airborne at speeds of less than 32kmph (20mph). Flying at such slow speeds makes it easier for them to detect prey. Northern European and Asian birds tend to migrate, with British birds going to West Africa, but even in Britain, some birds are sedentary and do not make these migrations. Their preferred habitat is moorland, marshes, fens, reedbeds and swamps. Some species in Britain are now breeding in cereal fields. Frogs make up a large component of the marsh harrier's diet, but small mammals, reptiles, insects, eggs and nestlings are also consumed.

Scientific name: Circus aeruginosus

Rank: Species

Common names:

  • Eurasian marsh harrier,
  • Western marsh harrier

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Map showing the distribution of the Marsh harrier taxa

Species range provided by WWF's Wildfinder.

The Marsh harrier can be found in a number of locations including: Africa, Asia, China, Europe, Indian subcontinent, Mediterranean, Russia, United Kingdom, Wales. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.


The following habitats are found across the Marsh harrier distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

Conservation Status

Least Concern

  1. EX - Extinct
  2. EW
  3. CR - Threatened
  4. EN - Threatened
  5. VU - Threatened
  6. NT
  7. LC - Least concern

Year assessed: 2009

Classified by: IUCN 3.1

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