In-Flight Refueling
📸 by @myrgard

Northern harriers exchanging prey/showing off.

These raptors are part of the family Accipitridae, which includes 224 species of hawks, eagles, vultures, kites, and the other 12 species of harrier.

Northern harriers (formerly known as marsh hawks) are the only harriers in North America.

The differences between a hawk and a harrier are slight, but they are enough to classify them separately.

One of the larger differences is noticed while these birds hunt – harriers fly low over open field/marshes (instead of high up in the sky like a hawk) in search of small mammals and birds.

Another big difference is nest location, they tend to build their nests on the ground and hide them in the tall grass around marshes – whereas hawks build their nests on the top branches of large trees.

Northern harriers are also equipped with a facial disc, similar to what owls have, which allows then to hunt by sound as well as sight.

The facial disc collects sound waves and directs them to the ears of the harrier, allowing them to detect prey under snow, grass and plant cover.


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