Marsh Harrier / Circus aeruginosus / مرزة البطائح

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Status: Scarce

The Marsh Harrier belongs to the Accipitridae family in the Accipitriformes order. It is 48-56 cm in size, 500-700 grams in weight and with a wingspan of 115-130 cm. Marsh Harriers are slim figured and when perched they are generally brown. They have bare yellow legs which are long and thin and well adapted to grabbing fowl. The shape of the head is unique with comparatively frontal eyes that give them an owlish look. The Marsh Harrier has a silhouette that resembles that of a black kite or a booted eagle but it differs from them by its bare legs and long and slightly rounded tail. The kite has a forked tail whereas the booted eagle has a squared tail. The male has a pale head and neck with a light chestnut abdomen. In flight, from below, the light blue wings and tail are apparent as are the reddish abdomen and the black wingtips. From above, the tricolor pattern is apparent, brown back and greater coverts, light blue secondaries and primary coverts, and black wing tips. The female is darker than the male with a pale-yellowish crown and chin. Wing feathers are dark compared to the coverts and the pale forewing. The juvenile is similar to the female and is easier to distinguish in flight. Unlike the female, the wing feathers of the juveniles are darker than the coverts and the forewing is not of a lighter color. The flight of the Marsh Harrier is slow and quiet, gliding as it hunts above dense vegetation. The Marsh Harrier lifts its wings while gliding, forming a V shape as compared to the low level of the kites' wings that can be held lower than the body when in flight. 

The distribution consists of two known subspecies:
C. a.aeruginosus that breeds from Western Europe and eastwards to south-east Asia
C. a. harterti that breed in north-west Africa

International conservation status: Least Concern

Migratory behaviour: Winter and migration