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I Dream Africa

I Dream Africa

Harrier

   

A harrier is any of the several species of diurnal hawks forming the Circinae sub-family of the Accipitridae family of birds of prey. Harriers characteristically hunt by flying low over open ground, feeding on small mammals, reptiles, or birds.

The African Marsh Harrier (Circus ranivorus) is a bird of prey belonging to the harrier genus Circus. It is found in southern, central and eastern Africa from South Africa north to Sudan with a vagrant record from Nigeria. It is particularly common in the Okavango Delta in Botswana. It is usually found in wetland areas, especially those with reeds, but also occurs in grassland and farmland.

The adult is 45 to 50 cm long and is mostly brown with pale streaking on the head, breast and forewing and rufous on the thighs and belly. Males and females are similar, unlike most harriers. The juvenile is dark brown with a pale breastband and pale markings on the head. The tail and flight feathers have dark barring at all ages. It is usually silent but has a high-pitched, two-note display call.

It feeds largely on small mammals such as the striped mouse Rhabdomys pumilio and also takes birds and frogs.

It is monogamous and remains on the breeding territory all year round. The nest is usually built in a reedbed and three or four white eggs are laid.

   
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