Northern Harrier

photo by Phil Swanson

Circus cyaneus
L 17-23″(43-58 cm) W 38-48″(97-122 cm).

Song or calls:
Listen (NGPC audio)

Usually silent.

Description: White rump, owl-like facial disk. A slim hawk. Male is light gray above and white below. In flight, black wing tips are visible. Female is brown above, with brown streaking below. Immature brown above, cinnamon below.

Behavior: Fly low to the ground, with a characteristic slow, hesitant flight. Wings often tilted up (dihedral) when flying.

Bird Map
Habitat: Grasslands, prairie marshes, and wet meadows. Nesting occurs in a range of vegetation, from upland grasses to emergent vegetation in ponds and marshes.

Where in Nebraska: Common migrant and permanent resident across the state. Breeds locally.

Fun Facts: Have a somewhat owl-like facial disk that helps them locate prey by sound.

Northern Harrier - photo by Phil Swanson Northern Harrier - photo by Phil Swanson Northern Harrier - NEBRASKAland Magazine/Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
(click image for larger view)