Marsh Harrier

Irish Name: Cromán móna
Scientific name: Circus aeruginosus
Bird Family: Raptors
Conservation status


Has bred in Ireland. A scarce summer visitor to well-vegetated wetlands from March to September throughout Ireland. May occasionally overwinter.


About the same size as Hen Harrier and has similar behaviour. Adult male Marsh Harriers are very distinctive, having an all grey head and reddishy-brown body. In flight, large black patches can be seen on the primaries, with the rest of the wing mainly grey. Adult females are a dark brown colour, except for beige partches on the head and throat. In flight, they appear almost uniformly brown. Subadult Marsh Harriers are variable in appearance, though most resemble females.


Generally silent when seen in Ireland.


Actively hunts for birds and small mammals in wetlands.


Formerly bred in large reedbeds in Ireland. Single birds have been noted at several wetland sites throughout Ireland though these are almost always young non-breeding birds. Around 150 pairs of Marsh Harrier breed in the UK and this species is fairly common at wetland sites in Central and Eastern Europe.


The European population is partially migratory. Some overwinter in western and southern Europe, while the majority move south to tropical Africa. Occasionally seen in winter at wetland sites in Ireland.

Similar Species

Hen Harrier

Irish Name:
Cromán na gCearc
Scientific name:
Circus cyaneus
Bird Family:


Irish Name:
Scientific name:
Buteo buteo
Bird Family: