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Conservation status: Amber

The Montagu's harrier is a slim, medium-sized, long-winged bird of prey. It has a long tail, is smaller than a buzzard, and has more pointed wings than the similar hen harrier. The male is grey above. In flight, it shows black wingtips and a black stripe across the inner wing. The female is dark brown. It is an extremely rare breeding bird in the UK, and its status is precarious. Each pair needs special protection. It seems increasingly to be nesting on arable farmland rather than on marshes, which seems to have been fortunate, because nests on farmland produce more chicks. It is a summer visitor, and migrates to Africa to spend the winter.

Illustrations

Overview

Latin name

Circus pygargus

Family

Hawks and eagles (Accipitridae)

Where to see them

Nest sites are kept secret to protect birds from egg collectors and unwitting disturbance. It is possible to see them on passage, particularly on the south and eastern coasts of England.

When to see them

Between May and August

What they eat

Small birds, voles, shrews, rabbits, lizards and insects.

Population

EuropeUK breeding*UK wintering*UK passage*
-12-16 pairs--

Distribution

Key