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A medium-sized raptor, 45-55 cm long and 97-118 cm wingspan; males smaller (300-400 g), females larger (410-700 g)
 Similar species
The North American Northern Harrier, a rare vagrant in western Europe, has upperparts mottled dark grey and flanks and breast rufous-spotted in males, darker upperparts in females, and more orange underparts in juveniles than Hen Harrier. Also see Montagu's Harrier and Pallid Harrier which both show four 'fingered' primaries in flight; Montagu's also has dark secondary bar, and Pallid only 3-4 black primaries in male. Also see other harriers depending on where the observation is done; in Europe, Western Marsh Harrier is heavier with broader wings.
Widespread in Europe and Asia.
It is a summer visitor in Scandinavia, Russia and northern China, but resident or partly so in western and central Europe. Widespread in winter from British Isles, France and Spain east to the Black and Caspian Seas. Small numbers winter in Morocco and Egypt and can be seen on the major migration routes but relatively few cross the Mediterranean. Recorded in some numbers at Falsterbo, peaking in early-mid October.
Asian populations winter south to Japan, southern China south of the Yangtze, and northern India; a rare straggler to Taiwan.
Monotypic. Formerly included Northern Harrier (and still so by Howard & Moore), and sometimes also Cinereous Harrier, as subspecies; these have been split as separate species in view of the distinct morphological and ecological differences between them.
Hen Harrier populations are secure in some areas, but in others, notably Great Britain, have suffered massive declines due to determined criminal persecution by game-shooting estates.
Breeds in marshes, grasslands and heathlands, sometimes in mountains, often in cultivated areas.
Like all harriers, hunts using a low, slow flight over the ground, with their wings held in a shallow "V", then plunge onto their prey.
Includes small mammals, birds, reptiles, insects, and carrion.
They build a nest of sticks and grass on the ground in thick heather, grass or shrubs. The clutch consists of three to six eggs which are incubated by the female for 29 - 31 days, fledging after about a month later.
They take 2 - 3 years to mature, but may attempt breeding in their first year.
Call: kek, kek, kek
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