Another great reason to live in the Wasatch Front! The Harrier Hawk can be readily watched and photographed at the Bird Refuges of Utah. As of late the areas are flooded with photographers hoping to get a “fun” shot of this bird.
- Medium-sized hawk.
- Long tail.
- Long, slender, rounded wings.
- White rump.
- Flies low, with wings held up in slight “V.”
Head, back, and upper chest light gray. Chest and belly white, usually with some rusty markings extending onto flanks. Wingtips black. Line of black on rear of wings. Underwings white. Tail darkish gray above and whitish below, with some barring. Rump white.
Back dark brown, with many feathers edged with tawny. Face streaked brown and whitish. Face outlined by white facial disk. Chest and belly streaked dirty white and tan. Rump white. Upper side of wings brown, lower side barred white and dark brown. Tail brown with dark bars.
Juvenile similar to adult female, but with rusty wash across mostly unstreaked underparts.
- Most male Northern Harriers are mated to one or two females at the same time. Some males pair with up to five mates in a season. Females incubate the eggs and brood the offspring, while the male provides the bulk of the food for his mates and their nestlings.
- Unlike other hawks, the Northern Harrier relies on its hearing as well as its vision to capture prey. The feathers of the face are stiff to help transmit sound, and it shows a pronounced “facial disk,” much like that of an owl.
- The Northern Harrier feeds primarily on mice, other small mammals, and small birds. It will, however, take larger prey, such as rabbits and ducks. It has been known to subdue large prey by drowning it.