Montagu’s Harrier

The Montagu’s Harrier (Circus pygargus) is a migratory bird of prey of the harrier family. It can be found throughout southern Eurasia. In winter it migrates to Africa.

This medium-sized raptor breeds on warm, dry, sunny open lowland plains, heathland and croplands.

This typical harrier has long wings which it holds in a shallow V during its low flight. It also resembles other harriers in having distinct male and female plumages.

Males are grey above and white below, and have black wingtips. It differs from Hen Harrier in its smaller size, narrower wings and dark bars on the wings.

The female is brown above with white upper tail coverts. Females and juveniles are often called “ringtails”. Her underparts are buff streaked with brown. It is best distinguished from the female Hen Harrier based on structure.

Montagu’s harriers prey on small mammals, lizards and birds, surprising them as they drift low over fields and moors.

The nest of this species is located on the ground where 4-6 whitish eggs are laid.

This bird is named after the British naturalist George Montagu, who distinguished it from its larger relative.