Harrier (bird)

A harrier is any of the several species of diurnal hawks sometimes placed in 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. The young of the species are sometimes referred to as ring-tail harriers. They are distinctive with long wings, a long narrow tail, the slow and low flight over grasslands and skull peculiarities. The harriers are thought to have diversified with the expansion of grasslands and the emergence of C4 grasses about 6 to 8 million years ago during the Late Miocene and Pliocene.[1]

Circus pygargus (Naumann)
Montagu's harrier
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Accipitriformes
Family: Accipitridae
Subfamily: Circinae

but see text


Circus cyaneus 01367t
Northern harrier, 1st year juvenile

The genus Circus was introduced by the French naturalist Bernard Germain de Lacépède in 1799.[2][3] Most harriers are placed in this genus. The word Circus is derived from the Ancient Greek kirkos, referring to a bird of prey named for its circling flight (kirkos, "circle"), probably the hen harrier.[4] The name harrier is thought to have been derived either from Harrier (dog), or by a corruption of harrower, or directly from harry.[5]


Ring-tail is an informal term used by birders for the juveniles and females of several harrier species when seen in the field and not identifiable to an exact species. Ring-tail harriers include the juveniles and females of Montagu's harrier (Circus pygargus), hen harrier (Circus cyaneus), and pallid harrier (Circus macrourus).


The subfamily Circinae has traditionally included the genera Polyboroides and Geranospiza which include three species - the Madagascan harrier-hawk, (Polyboroides radiatus), the African harrier-hawk, (Polyboroides typus) and the crane hawk, (Geranospiza caerulescens). This may however not be a valid subfamily as the monophyletic genus Circus is nested within the Accipiter groups while the other two genera are non-monophyletic and are part of the larger Buteonine clade. Many species in the genus Circus show very low diversity in their mitochondrial DNA due perhaps due to extreme drops in their populations. They are prone to fluctuations with varying prey densities.[7][8]


  1. ^ Oatley, Graeme; Simmons, Robert E.; Fuchs, Jérôme (2015). "A molecular phylogeny of the harriers (Circus, Accipitridae) indicate the role of long distance dispersal and migration in diversification". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 85: 150–60. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2015.01.013. PMID 25701771.
  2. ^ Lacépède, Bernard Germain de (1799). "Tableau des sous-classes, divisions, sous-division, ordres et genres des oiseux". Discours d'ouverture et de clôture du cours d'histoire naturelle (in French). Paris: Plassan. p. 4. Page numbering starts at one for each of the three sections.
  3. ^ Mayr, Ernst; Cottrell, G. William, eds. (1979). Check-list of Birds of the World. Volume 1 (2nd ed.). Cambridge, Massachusetts: Museum of Comparative Zoology. p. 316.
  4. ^ Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 109. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  5. ^ Hogg, John (1845). "A catalogue of birds observed in South-eastern Durham and in North-western Cleveland". The Zoologist. 3: 1049–1063.
  6. ^ Etherington, Graham J.; Mobley, Jason A. (2016). "Molecular phylogeny, morphology and life-history comparisons within Circus cyaneus reveal the presence of two distinct evolutionary lineages". Avian Research. 7. doi:10.1186/s40657-016-0052-3.
  7. ^ Griffiths, Carole S.; Barrowclough, George F.; Groth, Jeff G.; Mertz, Lisa A. (2007). "Phylogeny, diversity, and classification of the Accipitridae based on DNA sequences of the RAG-1 exon". Journal of Avian Biology. 38 (5): 587–602. doi:10.1111/j.2007.0908-8857.03971.x.
  8. ^ Fuchs, Jérôme; Simmons, Robert E.; Mindell, David P.; Bowie, Rauri C. K.; Oatley, Graeme (2014). "Lack of mtDNA genetic diversity in the Black Harrier Circus maurus, a Southern African endemic". Ibis. 156: 227–230. doi:10.1111/ibi.12103.

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Hatfield, Hertfordshire

Hatfield is a town and civil parish in Hertfordshire, England, in the borough of Welwyn Hatfield. It had a population of 29,616 in 2001, and 39,201 at the 2011 Census. The settlement is of Saxon origin. Hatfield House, home of the Marquess of Salisbury, forms the nucleus of the old town. From the 1930s when de Havilland opened a factory until the 1990s when British Aerospace closed it, aircraft design and manufacture employed more people there than any other industry. Hatfield was one of the post-war New Towns built around London and has much modernist architecture from the period. The University of Hertfordshire is based there.

Hatfield lies 20 miles (30 kilometres) north of London beside the A1(M) motorway and has direct trains to London King's Cross railway station, Finsbury Park and Moorgate. There has been a strong increase in commuters who work in London moving into the area.


Polyboroides is a genus of bird of prey in the Accipitridae family. This genus has two recognized species found in Sub-Saharan Africa and Madagascar. The two species are allopatric and restricted to the Afrotropic ecozone. They are generally known as harrier-hawks.

Tullibody Inch

Tullibody Inch is an islet in the estuarine waters of the River Forth.

It takes its name from the nearby town of Tullibody, "inch" being from the Scottish Gaelic innis meaning "island" or "meadow".The island used to be farmland but has become flooded due to mining subsidence. It is now part of the Firth of Forth SSSI, which also includes nearby Alloa Inch and the John Muir Country Park. The Scottish Wildlife Trust owns and manages the island as a nature reserve.


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