Circus aeruginosus Linnaeus, 1758 ♀
Common names: Western Marsh Harrier[En], Busard des roseaux[Fr], Bruine Kiekendief [Nl], Europäische Rohrweihe [De], Falco di palude [It], Aguillucho lagunero [Es], Βαλτοσιάχινο, Καλαμόκιρκος [Gr], Kırmızı Doğan [Tu]
IUCN Status: LC (Least Concern)
Livadia, SERRES ● Greece
Description: The western marsh harrier is a large, bulky harrier (larger than other European harriers but slightly smaller than the eastern marsh harrier). It is 43 to 54 cm in length, has a wingspan of 115 to 130 cm. With fairly broad wings, it has a strong and peculiar sexual dichromatism.
The male's plumage is mostly a cryptic reddish-brown with lighter yellowish streaks, which are particularly prominent on the breast. The head and shoulders are mostly pale greyish-yellowish. The rectrices and the secondary and tertiary remiges are pure grey, the latter contrasting with the brown forewing and the black primary remiges at the wingtips. The upperside and underside of the wing look similar, though the brown is lighter on the underwing. Whether from the side or below, flying males appear characteristically three-colored brown-grey-black. The legs, feet, irides and the cere of the black bill are yellow.
The female is almost entirely chocolate-brown. The top of the head, the throat and the shoulders have of a conspicuously lighter yellowish colour; this can be clearly delimited and very contrasting, or (particularly in worn plumage) be more washed-out, resembling the male's head colours. But the eye area of the female is always darker, making the light eye stand out, while the male’s head is altogether not very contrastingly coloured and the female lacks the grey wing-patch and tail.
Juveniles are similar to females, but usually have less yellow, particularly on the shoulders.
Biology: It feeds on small mammals, small birds, insects, reptiles, and frogs.
The start of the breeding season varies from mid-March to early May. Western marsh harrier males often pair with two and occasionally three females. Pair bonds usually last for a single breeding season, but some pairs remain together for several years.
The ground nest is made of sticks, reeds and grasses. It is usually built in a reedbed, but the species will also nest in arable fields. There are between three and eight eggs in a normal clutch. The eggs are oval in shape and white in colour, with a bluish or greenish tinge when recently laid. The eggs are incubated for 31–38 days and the young birds fledge after 30–40 days.
Habitat: Like the other marsh harriers, it is strongly associated with wetland areas, especially those rich in common reed (Phragmites australis). It can also be met with in a variety of other open habitats, such as farmland and grassland, particularly where these border marshland.
Distribution: This species has a wide breeding range from Europe and northwestern Africa to Central Asia and the northern parts of the Middle East. It breeds in almost every country of Europe but is absent from mountainous regions and subarctic Scandinavia. Most populations of the western marsh harrier are migratory or dispersive. Some birds winter in milder regions of southern and western Europe, while others migrate to the Sahel, Nile basin and Great Lakes region in Africa, or to Arabia, the Indian subcontinent, and Myanmar. The all-year resident subspecies harterti inhabits Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia.
Wikipedia, Western marsh harrier