Category Archives: Harriers

New publication about Hen Harrier identification

Bird watcher Gerold Dobler has published a new manual about the identification of Hen Harriers. The focus is on ageing and sexing.

The publication is available in both German an  English.

English cover:

German cover:

The German publication is distributed with the current (June 2020) issue of Vögel Magazin. Details can be found here: Kornweihe –  Alters- und Geschlechtsbestimmung.

The  English publication is distributed with the July issue of British Birds.

Successful breeding of Pallid Harriers in the Netherlands

The Pallid Harrier is a rare species in Europa and regularly only breeds in Ukraine and Russia.

In 2017 a pair has successfully nested in the Netherlands and raised 4 young (all females).

This is the first successful breeding of a Pallid Harrier in Western Europe.

It will be interesting to see if the birds return next year and if other birds join them or if this was an single and local event.

More information incl. a video can be found on Mark Avery’s blog:
Pallid Harriers nest successfully in The Netherlands

RSPB: Illegal persecution killing Britain’s Hen Harrier population

Illegal persecution is the main threat Hen Harriers face today in the UK. During the last 6 years the UK populations has declined by 20%, according to the latest information by the RSPB and illegal killing is the biggest single factor affecting the Hen Harrier, according to the RSPB.

The English population is only 12 pairs although there is potential for more than 300 pairs. At the moment the Hen Harrier is in serious danger of becoming extinct in England.

For more information, see the RSPB Website:
Illegal persecution killing Britain’s hen harrier population

Also see this interview with Brien Etheridge from the RSPB:
Interview with Brian Etheridge about the Hen Harrier in the UK

New interview with Don Scott about the Hen Harrier in Northern Ireland

An incubating female Hen Harrier

An incubating female Hen Harrier, © Don Scott

A new interview about the Hen Harrier is available. This time about the Hen Harrier in Nothern Ireland:

Interview with Don Scott about the Hen Harrier in Northern Ireland

I am very happy that Don Scott has answered my questions.
Don is an expert on Harriers and has studied Hen Harriers for 25 years. He has also traveled around the world to study and observe all other harrier species. He has written a wonderful book Harriers: Journeys Around The World about this studies and has also recently finished another book about his studies of the Hen Harrier (see the interview for details).

In the interview, Don explains the current situation of the Hen Harrier in Northern Ireland, gives insights in the fascinating biology of this amazing bird (incl. tree nesting behaviour) and explains the current conservation situation of the Hen Harrier in Northern Ireland.

New study about genetic diversity of the Polish population of the Montagu’s Harrier

In Poland a new study has been started about the genetic diversity of the Polish population of the Montagu’s Harrier. For this feathers will be collected, not only in Poland but in many countries incl. Spain, France, Germany or Russia.

If you want to contribute to protecting the harrier, help in collecting feathers for genetic research! For more information, have a look here:

Genetic diversity of the Polish population harrier Circus pygargus in the context of its protection

There you can find a description on how to help and how to collect and store feathers and where to send them.

At the bottom of the page is a PDF about the project in Polish, English and German.

For more information, ask Dominik Krupinski. His email address can be found at the bottom of the above mentioned website.

New interview with Brian Etheridge about the Hen Harrier in the UK

Brian Etheridge with friend

Brian Etheridge with friend.
© Martin Benson

The Hen Harrier is one of the most beautiful and elegant European birds. It is a raptor of open habitat and can be found in many European countries, although it is only a rare breeding bird in some countries like Germany.

The Hen Harrier in the UK is in constant conflict with grouse hunting and grouse managers see a threat in them (and in other raptors like Common Buzzards or Golden Eagles) and some kill them.
It is sad that in the 21st century, conservation organisations, bird watchers and others who care about birds must still fight illegal persecution of raptors in Europe.
Other threats include habitat deterioration or disturbance.

In this new interview, Brian Etheridge, an expert on the species explains the current situation of the Hen Harrier in the UK, the conflict with grouse hunting, the competition of Hen Harriers with other raptors or the effect of badly placed windfarms.

Brian also explains what can and must be done to secure the future of this wonderful raptors in the UK.

The full interview can be found here:
Interview with Brian Etheridge about the Hen Harrier in the UK

New Interview with Dominik Krupinski about the Montagu’s Harrier in Poland

Montagu's Harrier

Montagu’s Harrier, © Andrzej Lukijanczuk

A new interview is available:

Interview with Dominik Krupinski about the Montagu’s Harrier in Poland

The Montagu’s Harrier is one of the most elegant raptors in Europe. In many places it is threatened by habitat loss and the intensification in agriculture. In this interview Dominik Krupinski talks about the current situation in Poland. He explains the current population status, the threats to the species, research programs and what is done for the Montagu’s Harrier’s conservation. He also gives a short overview of the status of the other European harrier species in Poland.

Breeding pair numbers of Montagu’s Harriers in Bavaria in 2009

In 2009, 155 pairs of Montagu’s Harrier were recorded in Bavaria. The number is good as similar to the last two years.
The breeding success was lower in 2009. The experts suspect this is due to the low density of voles in 2009.

The conservation of the Montagu’s Harrier is a success story in Bavaria. Nests are searched and protected during the breeding season. Farmers, who leave the nests intact (and some crops around the nest)
are compensated for their financial loss.

That has helped to increase the population, especially in Unterfranken (north-west Bavaria).

More information (in German) can be found here: