Hen harrier Facts

Hen harrier Facts
Hen harrier, also known as northern harrier, is a bird of prey that belongs to the family of hawks. It can be found in the northern parts of North America, Europe and Asia. Hen harrier inhabits grasslands, marshes, pastures, woodlands, coastal areas, river valleys and semi-deserts. Major threats for the survival of hen harriers are habitat loss, lack of food and nesting areas, intentional killing and pollution of the ground with pesticides. Despite these factors, wild population of hen harriers is still large and stable.
Interesting Hen harrier Facts:
Hen harrier can reach 18.1 to 19.7 inches in length and 10.6 to 26.5 ounces of weight. Females are larger than males.
Males have silvery-blue back and black bars on the tips of the wings. Females are covered with brown plumage and dark stripes and bars on the wings and tail. Bottom parts of the body both in males and females are white.
Hen harrier has slender body, long legs and long wings and tail. It has owl-like face thanks to stiff facial feathers that direct the sound toward the ears.
Wings of hen harrier are V-shaped during the flight. It flies close to the ground and relies on the eyesight and sense of hearing to detect the prey.
Hen harrier is a carnivore (meat-eater). Its diet is based on mice, voles, birds, lizards, amphibians, insects and carrion.
Hen harriers gather in large flocks (of tens or hundreds of birds) outside the breeding season. They produce whistles, screams and clucking calls for communication.
Natural enemies of hen harriers are coyotes, skunks, raccoons, red foxes, crows, ravens and owls.
Mating season of hen harriers takes place from April to July.
Males perform "sky dance" (various twists and turns in the air) to attract the females during the breeding season. Acrobatics in the air can last up to 20 minutes.
Males mate with 2 to 3 (rarely 5) females during the breeding season and provide food both for the females and chicks.
Both male and female participate in the construction of the nest, which can last one to two weeks. Nest is made of sticks, thick plants and grass and it is usually hidden among dense vegetation on the ground.
Female lays 3 to 6 eggs that hatch after 29 to 31 days. Only female takes part in the incubation of eggs.
Hen harriers feed in the mid-air during the breeding season. Male deliberately releases piece of food and female catches it in the air. Chicks also learn to feed this way when they become able to fly.
Chicks are ready to leave the nest at the age of 29 to 42 days. They begin independent life few weeks later. Hen harriers reach sexual maturity at the age of 2 (females) to 3 (males) years.
Hen harrier can survive 16 years in the wild.

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