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December 2019

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

December Bird of the Month - Hen Harrier

December Bird of the Month - Hen Harrier

The male is a stunning looking bird with silver-grey upperparts, white underparts and black wing tips. The larger female is dark brown with buff marks on the wings and a grey-brown tail with darker bands. The disc of stiffer feathers gives an 'owl-like' appearance to her face. Her underparts are bright buff and the breast is heavily streaked. Both sexes show the distinctive bold white rump.

Hen harrier can be seen throughout the year in Britain. They breed on upland moors and in conifer plantations, but although a protected species, their numbers are threatened by illegal persecution by game keepers and shooting estates.

In winter they move to lowland fens, heaths and coastal marshes and their numbers can be boosted by migrant birds from the Continent. They form communal roosts coming into reedbeds at sites such as Stodmarsh and on the Isle of Sheppey.

Hen harriers are usually silent except when breeding. At this time they make a rapid yickering call during their sky-dance display. Their favourite food are small birds such as meadow pipits, as well as voles and mice.

Click on the link to watch the RSPB video to find out more about this magnificent bird.