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In Great Britain , the species is limited to southern England. In Ireland the species is rarely seen, and mainly in the South, although there are a number of breeding records, the most recent from Breeding sites frequently change, with some sporadic nesting occurring outside known breeding areas, however clear signs of reduced range are apparent and are associated with population decline.

Montagu's harrier is a rare breeding bird in Britain. There are two breeding areas — the area surrounding The Wash , and downland areas of southern England, from Dorset and Hampshire north to Oxfordshire. Away from these areas it occurs only as a scarce migrant. One site, Estuary Farm, near North Wootton in west Norfolk, a special observation area was negotiated with local landowners, so that pressure could be taken off other nesting pairs.

The population for the western Palearctic is estimated at 35,—50, pairs.

The Dutch Montagu’s Harrier Foundation

The global population is unknown and could be anything between , and , individuals Birdlife International, This uncertainty is due to the fact that most of the world's population is situated in Russia and former Soviet republics where it is not quantified. The evolution has been paradoxical throughout the 20th century. In the beginning of the century up to the s, during a period when other raptors greatly decreased because of human persecution, the Montagu's harrier actually increased its population and breeding range, breeding for the first time in Denmark in the s, and greatly increasing elsewhere.

However, from the s onwards it has decreased rapidly. This is due to several negative factors: first, the massive use of agricultural pesticides such as DDT and other environmental poisons was extremely detrimental to the harriers themselves, as well as rarefying their prey, in particular large insects.

The modification of agricultural practises, with an evolution towards more intensive farming also puts pressure on harriers, with faster growing crops preventing those birds that nest in farmlands from finishing their nidification before their clutches are destroyed by harvesting machines. Despite a generally negative trend there are local cases when the population has increased, such as in Sweden or in Germany [12] in the s.

Montagu's Harrier

These local trends show that while they have access to suitable habitats and food supply there can still be positive developments. It can be both solitary and gregarious at times, both during the breeding season and in winter quarters. Semi-colonial nesting is not due to a shortage of nesting sites, but arises rather from the need to provide a better defence against predators.

Other species attacked and mobbed include large raptors , corvids , and foxes. Reproduction begins with the return of both partners to the nesting site, at which point both male and female will start displaying. The display consists of various sky-dances and aerobatic figures that vary according to each individual. Both sexes will display, crying loudly, though the males' displays are more frequent and spectacular. Montagu's harriers breed for the first time when two or three years old, but occasionally one year old females may attempt to nest.

Pairs form on the territory, when returning from migration. As the birds are tied to their former nesting sites, they probably mate with the same partner every year. The nest is built by the female, always in tall vegetation. It is a simple construction made of grass, used only for one season. The female lays 3 to 5 eggs which are incubated for 27—40 days. The young leave the nest after 28—42 days and are independent two weeks later.

The males may be polygamous , then having to feed two females and later two broods, either simultaneously or consecutively. The Montagu's harrier is a long distance migrant. Birds from Eurasia spend the winter in sub- Saharan Africa , while those from the eastern part of the range migrate to the Indian subcontinent.


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In Europe, the first birds start to move at the beginning of August and most have left by mid-October. They travel over a broad front, crossing the Mediterranean at various points, and only a small number are observed at migration choke points. Western birds don't go further south than the gulf of Guinea , but some eastern birds travel as far as South Africa.

In Africa, their diet is composed mostly of insects and birds, and it is possible that they follow locust swarms. Spring return peaks in April, and most birds have arrived by May though there is evidence that first-year juveniles spend their first summer in the winter quarters. This makes the Montagu's harrier a very vulnerable species, and very dependent on nest protection.

Bird protection non-governmental organizations participate in their protection, in collaboration with concerned landowners. In the background slower usual alarm call of female C. There is some photo of this bird. Rare call of females given in approaching other female in rather non aggressive way.

Can be usual for young nesting females still begging for food to older females. Lower intensity of begging call without overtone at the middle in comparison to XC Can also be heard female flying lower - early time of pare formation. Note : Many features of this site will not work without javascript.

Hen Harrier Suffers Savage Brutality

Map Legend Subspecies pygargus x macrourus Unclassified No subspecies specified In background of another recording. Immature male one year old "helper" in breeding colony. Home About us Subjects Contacts. Advanced Search Help.


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  • Entire Site De Gruyter Online. Sign in Register. English Deutsch. Semicolonial nesting and conservation of the Montagu's harrier Circus pygargus in rapeseed fields in Southern Podlasie eastern Poland.

    New chicks raise hope for hen harrier survival … but shooters take aim | Environment | The Guardian

    Open access. Keywords: active conservation ; semicolony ; arable fields ; agrocoenosis. Raptor Journal. Volume 4: Issue 1.