Northern Harrier

Circus cyaneus
Northern harriers have an owl-like face/Photo Courtesy of Dr. Madeline Kalbach

The Northern harrier is a common permanent resident and breeding bird in the Refuge and surrounding area. It can usually be seen gliding low over and through the sand dunes with its long wings held in a shallow V as it hunts for prey such as rats, mice and voles. Ninety-five percent of its diet is made up of small mammals. It also cruises over marshes and wetlands when on the hunt for shorebirds and other small birds. The Northern harrier uses its sense of hearing to find prey. Their owl-like facial discs help to direct the sound as they search for prey.  The male is gray in color and the female is brown so that she blends in with her surroundings when nesting.

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Facts About Northern Harrier

White rump

Uses its sense of hearing to find prey

Two owl-like facial discs make it look like an owl