Scientific name: Circus cyaneus
The northern harrier is a bird of prey. It breeds throughout the northern parts of the northern hemisphere in Canada and the northernmost USA, and in northern Eurasia.
This medium-sized raptor breeds on moorland, bogs, prairies, farmland coastal prairies, marshes, grasslands, swamps and other assorted open areas.
This harrier hunts on long wings held in a shallow V in its low flight during which the bird closely hugs the contours of the land below it. Northern or hen harriers hunt primarily small mammals, as do most harriers. Preferred prey species can include voles, cotton rats and ground squirrels. Birds are hunted with some regularity as well, especially by males. Preferred avian prey include passerines of open country (i.e. sparrows, larks, pipits), small shorebirds and the young of waterfowl and galliforms.
Harriers hunt by surprising prey while flying low to the ground in open areas, as they drift low over fields and moors. The harriers circle an area several times listening and looking for prey. Harriers use hearing regularly to find prey, as they have exceptionally good hearing.
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