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Eastern Marsh Harrier

From Opus

Alternative name: Spotted Marsh Harrier

Photo by the late Laurence PohDecember 2003
Photo by the late Laurence Poh
December 2003
Circus spilonotus

Includes: Papuan Harrier


[edit] Identification

It is 48 to 58 cm long with a wingspan of 113 to 137 cm. Like most birds of prey, the female is usually larger than the male.
The male's plumage is variable; typically the head, breast, back and wing-coverts are blackish with pale streaks. The rest of the wing is grey with black wingtips and a white front edge. The tail is grey, the rump is white and the underparts are mostly white.

The female is dark brown with buff streaking on the head and underparts. The rump is often whitish and the tail has dark bars.

Young birds are dark brown with buff on the head and a pale patch on the underwing.

[edit] Distribution

MalePhoto by scottishdudeShenyang, China, June 2008
Photo by scottishdude
Shenyang, China, June 2008

Eastern Asia. Breeds in eastern Siberia to the Pacific coast and Sakhalin, in north-east India, throughout China and in Hokkaido and Honshu in Japan. Also breeds in the Philippines, Indonesia and western New Guinea. Resident in southern China but a summer visitor to north of breeding range wintering from southern China, Taiwan and Hainan south to Indonesia.

[edit] Taxonomy

Most authors recognize the split of Eastern Marsh Harrier and Western Marsh Harrier (including Clements, 2007; Howard & Moore, 2003; and Sibley & Monroe, 1996), though some treat spilonotus as a race of C. aeroginosus, Marsh Harrier.

[edit] Subspecies

There are 2 subsp[1]:

  • C. s. spilonotus:
  • C. s. spilothorax: (Papuan Harrier)
Juvenile malePhoto by Romy OconMalasi Lake, Isabela Province, Philippines, January 2007
Juvenile male
Photo by Romy Ocon
Malasi Lake, Isabela Province, Philippines, January 2007

[edit] Habitat

Plains, paddyfields and swamps.

[edit] Behaviour

[edit] Flight

While hunting it flies low over the ground with the wings held in a shallow V-shape.

[edit] Diet

Its prey includes small mammals, birds and frogs.

[edit] Breeding

The breeding season begins in April. The nest is made of sticks and built on the ground, usually in a reedbed. Four to seven eggs are laid which are incubated for 33 to 48 days. The young birds fledge after 35 to 40 days.

[edit] References

  1. Clements, JF. 2011. The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to August 2011. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0801445019. Spreadsheet available at

[edit] External Links


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