Friday’s Feathered Friends-Northern Harrier

Copyright ©2021 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Several weeks ago He-Man was up for exploring so I took him to some of my birding spots that he hasn’t been to yet. While driving into one area I spotted a Northern Harrier on the ground in an irrigation ditch and as soon as we parked I took off to try to get a photo of it. It remained still and let me take a series of images of it. I wondered if it had a meal in that pile of weeds/grass?

Sitting Northern Harrier Male;

Afterwards I caught up with He-Man and while we were picking our way through a field avoiding the muddiest spots he spotted another one sitting in the field. WOOT!

Later on I spied her flying and on the lookout for a meal.

Look at this wing span! She’s ready to pounce! She came up empty and flew out of my range and view onto a new hunting ground no doubt across the pond.

Cool facts:

Male Northern Harriers can have up to 5 mates at once though most only have two. The males provides the food, and the females take care of incubating the eggs and brood the chicks.

Northern Harriers are the most owl like of the hawks, but they are not related to owls. They rely on their hearing and vision to find prey. They have a disk shaped face the looks and functions like an owls with stiff facial feathers that direct sound to their ears.

Juvenile males have pale greenish-yellow eyes, while juvenile females have dark chocolate brown eyes. The eye color of both sexes changes gradually to lemon yellow by adulthood. I didn’t know that!

They eat small mammals and small birds but have been known to take down ducks and rabbits.

The oldest known Northern Harrier on record was a Female at least 15 years, 4 months old when she was captured and released in 2001 by a bird bander in Quebec. She had been banded in New Jersey in 1986.

Cool facts gleaned from

The Harriers were the most exciting sighting at this location soon we were on our way to find a meal ourselves then call it day and head home.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, keep safe and warm!

Fuji X-T3| Fuji 100-400mm| PS CC 22.2

more to come…

62 thoughts on “Friday’s Feathered Friends-Northern Harrier

  1. This was a wonderful celebration of the northern harrier, Deborah. I enjoyed the information and your photos are magnificent. I espec. like the female in the grass (#2) facing the camera because you can see her disk face. I love watching harriers hunt, when they cruise so low and effortlessly over the fields. Also nice that you captured the white rump patch in so many of the photos. Lovely post.

    1. Thank you so much for this lovely comment, Jet!
      I love Harriers as well. Next to the Kite and Owl they’re my favorite Hawk/predatory bird.

      He-Man was shape eyed on that day for sure! She was a great sighting sitting there in the tall grass.

  2. What a wonderful find and great photos of the awesome Northern Harrier, Deborah! I have been lucky enough to see them at a distance, and close-up on a couple of occasions, but am sure I never managed to get any photos like these! learned so much about them from your post – thanks!

    1. Thank you so much, BJ! It was exciting to see them this close and get some decent images of them.

      I always learn more about the birds reading blogs like yours and looking up the cool facts on birds I see. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post! 🥰

  3. Lucky you! They are such beautiful birds and interesting to watch. I’ve only seen them twice… flying over two different marshes, hunting. Thanks for sharing your beautiful photos and adventure story. And so interesting that the male and female juveniles have different coloured eyes but as adults, the colours are the same! 😊💛

    1. Thank you so much, Myriam! That information on the juvenile eyes was new to me too. Very interesting eh? Now if my old brain can remember it when out in the field while birding I’ll be doing great. 😀🤗

  4. Oh wow! That’s an impressive bird, Deborah! I’ve recently seen some type of large hawk flying around our neighborhood. The wingspan is always shocking. And I love the coloring of them.

  5. What a beautiful hawk! I’m surprised at the wingspan. Boy, were you lucky to capture it. Wonderful photos, Deborah. Does He-Man like your treks and birding? How old is he now?

    1. Thank you so much, Jennie! I was lucky that afternoon.
      He-Man has always been supportive of my “hobbies” thankfully! He’s a great friend for that! Although he does get bored just hanging around waiting for the birds, or the light to be just right so, he doesn’t come with me very often. 😀

  6. You had yourself an adventure! Good company, great finds, and wonderful shots. It doesn’t get much better than that. Well, I guess if your two ‘young’ guys were with you too, it would have been fun, but probably not so many shots taken. 🙂

  7. Hi, Deborah,
    we see a Marsh Harrier circling above our garden and the marshes nearly every day. Actually, two a male and female harrier. It’s looking like your Northern Harrier. In our bird reserve, we have several pairs of Marsh Harriers.
    Thanks for sharing.
    All the best
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  8. Those are great shots, Deborah. You covered all the bases, including in-flight – that photo is amazing.

    Thanks for adding the cool facts. I always enjoy learning about the pictures.

  9. Love these shots, Deborah, but then you always have wonderful photos. It reminds me that I have a good shot of a female harrier as well from the Preserve that has a good story to go with it. I’ll have to post it one of these days. 🙂 I hope you’re having a great Friday and have a wonderful weekend planned. My husband finally had the weekend off, then he was able to schedule his first Covid shot for Saturday afternoon…and then some work came up for Sunday. Sigh. I’m glad I could get to Flag on Monday just to get out of town. 🙂


    1. Oh, yes post the image(s) and the story! I was to see and read it!

      I hear you about the week-end. We’ve got weather so I’m staying in. In fact I woke up to find it snowed and it stuck!
      I’m glad I went out on Tuesday to the new to me refuge.

  10. Deborah, I am always in awe how you manage to capture such amazing photos of birds! And, they hold still and pose for you. Each photo could be a wall hanging. The Northern Harrier with the different backgrounds is stunning. And, yes, the wing span. Wow! 5 mates at once…..good grief. 🙂

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