I took these pictures 2 weeks ago, the very same day I saw the killdeer chicks. On the trail that day, I met my friend Bill, a retired meteorologist, who told me: “did you see the northern harrier?”
I hadn’t, so he pointed it out to me, as we were not far from the branches where she was perched. Thank you very much Bill, that was a great tip.
Then, I watched and took a lot of pictures of that bird, but there was this moment where she took off, ohh that was just amazing!
Well you can see it all for yourself by opening the photo gallery. The sixth picture is only there because it really shows well one of the distinguishing trait of northern harriers: the white spot on the rump which exists in both male and female.
The northern harrier is a medium size raptor who hunts by flying low over the ground. In this strategy the bird tries to catch a prey by surprise. According to Wikipedia, small mammals such as voles, rats, squirrels, make up 95% of this bird’s diet. The other 5% then include other birds, frogs, reptiles, and even insects.
Here are a few other interesting facts:
- Its face has a facial disk like owls, and like owls, they have an excellent hearing. This is unusual for diurnal raptors.
- The northern harrier male may be mating with up to 5 female during a season.
- He will bring food to the female while she attends to the young.
- The young will be able to fly after one month
- The young are often preyed upon by great horned owls
- Even though this bird is considered a good raptor by farmers, their use of pesticides still caused a decline in its population.
- It is not classified as endangered at this point. I feel that the rules are a bit too lax regarding that, since it takes having more than 30% decline in 10 years or 3 generations to be concerned. I keep reading articles expressing concern about the human population declines, even though we are only going a bit below replacement level… tsss :-p