Northern Harrier

Northern Harrier

Like Short-eared owls, these slender raptors hunt on the wing. Both the male and the larger mottled brown female sport an owl-like facial disk of feathers and a prominent white rump patch. The beautiful grey plumage and mostly white underside of the male has earned him the nickname “Grey Ghost.”

Northern Harriers nest on the ground, making them more vulnerable to human disturbance and predators. 

Harriers can cover as much as 100 miles a day during nesting season! They prey primarily on mice, voles, snakes and grasshoppers. A harrier coursing low over an uncut field in search of prey is a common sight in the Washington County Grasslands. 

New York State Status: Threatened
Federal Status: Not Listed

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Photos courtesy Gordon Ellmers