Belongs to: birds of prey

Hen harrier Circus cyaneus

BoCC Red list

Best time to see: Oct to Apr

Key facts

Medium-sized harrier that frequents moorland and estuaries

Habitat: freshwater marshes, moors, heaths, estuaries and shores

Resident in northern Britain, winter visitor to the south including Essex


Male grey all over with black wingtips, white rump and yellow legs, 42 cm; female brown with black wingbars, 50 cm

Hunts over open areas, often perching openly; eats small birds and mammals; hunting low over ground

Birds often roost communally in reedbed or on saltmarsh


Nest is a platform of sticks and twigs hidden in low vegetation

One brood of 4–6 pale blue eggs, April–June

© Andreas Trepte