The Travels of Tug 44

Northern Harrier

Northern Harrier females are mostly brown ... sometimes with brown bars on the chest. Harriers are extremely shy and all these photos are long-distance shots.   high-res

... and some of the females have a mostly brown chest. They all have that circle around their faces, much as Owls do ... it helps with hearing, and they can hunt by sound.   high-res

The male Northern Harrier is mostly gray with a white bottom ... sometimes they are called "The Grey Ghost". During breeding season, one male will often service as many as 5 females. The males are rare and even more shy than the females.   high-res

This female Harrier is skimming only 3-4 feet over a hay field, listening and watching for mice and other tasty little critters.   high-res

In this picture, the female Northern Harrier on the left had caught a mouse and had just finished it, when the female on the right landed next to her ...   high-res

... and suddenly both birds explode into the air with the first female attacking the other. These birds do not tolerate any competition at all. The mid-air battle continued as they both faded into the distance.   high-res

This Northern Harrier female lands in a hay field to collect grasses for nesting materials.   high-res

And off she goes, carrying that ball of grasses to her new nest. These birds nest on the ground, in the middle of hay fields.   high-res

She lands at the nest and sits there for awhile, as photographers arrive. She worked on this nest for 3-4 days but eventually the crowd spooked her and she abandoned her work and re-started elsewhere. It's ok, early February is a bit early for nest-building.   high-res

Spotted this female Harrier sitting on a fence post and got this and the next 2 photos. It was the morning after a snow fall, and she's surveying the hay field for mice ...   high-res

... when suddenly she starts doing her stretching exercises. All Northern Harriers, as well as most other birds, do this.   high-res

And then her wings came up and she flew. Beautiful!   high-res

This male Northern Harrier was sitting in a hay field about 200 yards out ...   high-res

... and a few minutes later, he lifted his wings and flew! The males are blue-gray on top and the undersides are mostly white.   high-res

And a week later, I got another male Northern Harrier in flight.   high-res

The Northern Harrier, one of the best fliers around.

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