Northern Harrier

The Northern Harrier ( Circus cyaneus ) is a slender, medium sized raptor with a distinctive white rump. Harriers are unusual in that there is a greater difference between male and female plumage than is typical of raptors. Females are brown ( like the one in the photo below ) and males are gray with black wingtips. Northern Harriers use their sense of hearing to help locate prey. They have an owl-like facial disk that may help with directional hearing and soft feathers for a quieter flight. I was watching this Harrier flying very fast, low and following the contours of the ground. It was harassing ducks in an open marsh area.

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