How to identify

The Hen Harrier is the most intensely persecuted of all the UK's birds of prey. It once preyed on free-range fowl, which gave it its present name. But, in recent times, its effect on the number of grouse available to shoot has lead to conflict and a threat to its survival in some parts of the UK. It's most at risk on the driven grouse moors of England and Scotland. While males are a pale grey colour, females and young birds are brown with a white rump and a striped tail which give them the name 'ringtail'. They fly with wings held in a shallow 'V', gliding low in search of food, which mainly consists of Meadow Pipits and voles. The Orkney population is famous for being polygynous, with males sometimes mating with multiple females on the island. They are listed as a Schedule 1 species under The Wildlife and Countryside Act.

How to spot a Hen Harrier

Check out our guide on how to spot Hen Harriers.


  1. Resident
  2. Passage
  3. Summer
  4. Winter
* This map is intended as a guide. It shows general distribution rather than detailed, localised populations.
  1. Jan
  2. Feb
  3. Mar
  4. Apr
  5. May
  6. Jun
  7. Jul
  8. Aug
  9. Sep
  10. Oct
  11. Nov
  12. Dec

Where best to see them

Key facts

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