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Papuan Harrier - BirdForum Opus

Circus spilothorax


47-61 cm, a large harrier

  • Upperside mostly grey
  • Black streaking on crown and neck
  • Black lesser and medial coverts and primaries
  • Underside mostly pale
  • Black on primaries and primary coverts
  • Throat streaked black and white or in central highlands solidly black


  • Upperside brown with paler rump and some banding on tail
  • Underside paler, on body heavily streaked with reddish brown
  • Wing underside mostly pale with coverts heavily spotted and barred in reddish brown


A dark morph of the male is mostly dark grey to blackish with just a few paler areas such as some streaks and primary windows.

Similar species

A dark-throated male can remind of a very contrasting Hen Harrier male (which is not expected anywhere close to the range). The female carries some similarity to the female Swamp Harrier


Found on the island of New Guinia, both in the area belonging to Indonesia and in Papua New Guinea.


This is a monotypic species[1].

This species has been split from Eastern Marsh Harrier


Open habitats including grassland, swamps, floodplains and wetlands, and specifically for foraging also attracted to agricultural areas and burning areas.


Nests on ground among tall grasses.




  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. del Hoyo, J., N. Collar, and J. S. Marks (2020). Papuan Marsh-Harrier (Circus spilothorax), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, J. Sargatal, D. A. Christie, and E. de Juana, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.easmah2.01

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