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Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)
Birds Around Las Vegas, Wildlife Around Las Vegas
Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)
Northern Harrier male (gray)

General Description: Northern Harriers (Circus cyaneus) are large, sexually dimorphic birds of prey. Both genders show a large white rump patch, which is diagnostic, and both have a large-headed, owl-like appearance. Males are gray overall with black wingtips. Females are brown overall with streaked underparts. Juveniles are darker overall.

Harriers are recognized from other birds of prey by the long, narrow, wings, long tail, and the behavior of fling low to the ground with the wings held above horizontal.

Taxonomy: Accipitriformes, Accipitridae.

Favored Habitat: Open areas, especially marshes. Roost on the ground, so does not need places to perch.

Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)
Northern Harrier female (brown)
Where to Find: Fairly common, usually seen hunting over marshes, but also regularly seen in the open desert. Around Las Vegas, look for harriers in the open desert, and also at marshes in the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge, Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, in the Moapa Valley near Moapa National Wildlife Refuge, and in the Overton Wildlife Management Area.
Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus) If you were a field vole or a little mouse, this might be the last face you ever see!
Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)
Northern Harrier male hunting over a marsh
Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)
Northern Harrier female; notice wings held above horizontal
Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)
Notice the dark back and white rump
Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)
Notice the facial pattern, which looks an owl face
Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)
Female Northern Harrier perched on a shrub on the edge of a marsh. This very dark bird probably is a juvenile. Note the owl-like facial disk that help funnel faint noises into their ears
Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)
Normally associated with low-elevation marshes, fields, and sea shores, this Northern Harrier was hunting meadows near 10,000 feet elevation in the Ruby Mountains of northeastern Nevada
Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)
Notice the owl-like facial disk
Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)
Notice the owl-like facial disk
Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus) Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)
Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus) Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)
Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus) Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)
Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)
Juvenile flight: note the lack of belly streaking
Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)
Female
Northern Harrier Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
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