|Irish Name:||Cromán na gCearc|
|Scientific name:||Circus cyaneus|
Breeds in the uplands and bogs of Ireland
Size between Montagu's Harrier and the larger Marsh Harrier. Females and juveniles similar - brown with white rump and dark rings on the tail, hence often referred to collectively as 'ringtails'. Females are bigger than males. Males very distinctive, appearing strikingly pale below, with blue grey upper parts and jet black wing-tips. Hen Harriers have somewhat of an owl-like face, particularly accentuated in female birds.
Usually only heard in the breeding season near the nest site. Quick, chattering calls in alarm and display and whistling calls from female to male, when receiving food.
Small birds and mammals, which are caught by surprise. Will sometimes use cover, such as woodland edges and bushes, to surprise prey.
Breeding birds are confined largely to heather moorland and young forestry plantations, where they nest on the ground. Hen Harriers are found mainly in Counties Laois, Tipperary, Cork, Clare, Limerick, Galway, Monaghan, Cavan, Leitrim, Donegal and Kerry. The species has declined, probably due to the loss of quality moorland habitat due to agricultural changes, and maturing forest plantations. Hen Harriers mainly hunt over moorland whilst breeding where they take small ground nesting birds and mammals.
Spends winter in more coastal and lowland areas throughout Ireland hence most easily seen on the coast in the winter months. Good sites include the North Slob Nature Reserve and Tacumshin Lake in County Wexford, as well as the East Coast Nature Reserve in Co. Wicklow.
BirdTrack and the Hen Harrier Roost Survey.
Breeding birds are confined largely to heather moorland.
Widespread in the winter due an influx of migrants. Found in open low-lying countryside and along the coast.
Blog posts about this bird
Widespread revulsion at the illegal poisoning of rare, protected Hen Harrier in Co. Meath
For a video showing the recovery of the body of Mary the Hen Harrier, please click here.
For more details about Hen Harriers in Ireland, please click here.
For a video about Ireland's Hen Harriers, please click here.