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Hen harrier


Common name Hen harrier
Scientific name Circus cyaneus
Type Farmland birds
Status Wintering

Medium-sized bird of prey (approximately 50 cm or 19.5 in) with an also medium wingspan (ca. 120 cm or 4 ft) with pronounced sexual dimorphism. Females are larger than males. These present upperparts of greyish tones, underparts of lighter colour, almost white in the belly, and black wingtips. Females show plumage of brown tones with greyish tints. Lighter and barred breast and ventral area. Long wings and tail, shaped like a "V" in flight. Naked and quite prolonged tarsi.


Cultivated areas

Where it lives

Species linked in the province to cereal crops, lowlands, wetlands and open areas with scattered trees. In the north of Spain it uses mountain meadows, reedbeds, kermes oak groves and heath lands.

How it lives

Wintering species in the province and also present during its migration. Nest on the ground. The Hen Harrier makes one annual laying from the end of March of 4 to 6 eggs. It feeds mainly on invertebrates and small mammals such as voles or rodents, most of which cause pests and damage to crops, but also consumes reptiles and birds of small size.

Where it can be seen in Malaga

Uncommon bird in Malaga. It is observed especially in the region of Antequera and the northeastern area of the province. There are also isolated watchings in Coín, Sierra Alpujata (Mijas), Acinipo area (Ronda and Montecorto) and at the mouth of the Guadalhorce. In the Great Path it is present in stages 16 and 32.

Curious facts

The Latin name of these birds comes from the Greek word "kirkus" and refers to their typical circular flight, which allows them to rise vertically almost effortlessly. Their common name "harrier" is also given to the fighter plane with vertical takeoff capability. But the most common alias with which these raptors are known is "the grey ghosts", due to the blue and dark gray spectral aura that their silhouette provokes. In Europe it is a bird much appreciated by farmers, as it captures the predators of gallinaceous eggs. For this reason it is also known as the "good hawk".

Similar birds
Wintering Summer Resident Migration