Pacific marsh harrier

Pacific marsh harrier
Circus approximans
Photo by Wayne Butterworth (Wikipedia)

Common name:

Pacific marsh harrier (en); tartaranhão-dos-paúis-do-Pacífico (pt); busard de Gould (fr); aguilucho lagunero del Pacífico (es); sumpfweihe (de)

Order Falconiformes
Family Accipitridae

This species is widespread in Australasia and the South Pacific, being found in much of Australia (except the arid regions), New Zealand, Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia.

Pacific harriers are 53-65 cm long and have a wingspan of 1,1-1,6 m. Females are larger than males, weighing 700-1.100 g while males weigh 500-700 g.

They prefer wetlands such as swamps, salt marshes, wetlands and rice fields, but can also be found in various open landscapes, such as pastures, grasslands, landscapes with sparse tree growth and grain fields.

Pacific harriers mostly hunt birds and eggs, large insects, frogs, reptiles and small mammals up to the size of hares or rabbits. They also take fish and shellfish and, in New Zealand, they also often feed on carrion.

These birds breed in September-December. The nest is made of straw and grasses, hidden above the water in dense reeds in a swamp or in crops or long grasses near water. There the female lays 3-4 eggs which she incubates alone for 31-34 days while being fed by the male. During the first few weeks after hatching the female remains in the nest and the male brings food for the family, later the female also start hunting and helps feed the chicks who fledge 43-46 days after hatching.

IUCN status – LC (Least concern)
Pacific harriers have a very large breeding range and a global population of 10.000-100.000 individuals. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

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