Hen Harriers

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Hen Harrier

Scientific name:  Circus cyaneus

Size:  Approx 50cm.  Wingspan approx. 110cm

Distribution:  Rare, but found in Scotland, Wales, N. Ireland, Isle of Man and many parts of north and east England

Months seen:  All year round

Habitat:  Hen harriers prefer open areas with low growing vegetation such as heather moors, coastal marshes and fens

Food:  Small rodents and birds

Special features:  Male hen harriers are pale grey in colour with dark wing tips, while the females and juvenile birds are mottled brown with a white rump.  The tail is long, with barred markings. It's for this reason they are sometimes called 'ringtails'.

The name 'hen harrier' comes from the birds liking of free-range fowl.  Over the years the hen harrier has been heavily persecuted because it has been known to predate game birds.

During the breeding season males will hunt for food and pass their catch to the females in mid-air (see photo).

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