Eurasian Marsh Harrier

Eurasian Marsh Harrier    Circus aeruginosus


  • Circus: Greek word kirkos –partly mythical hawk, named for its circling flight (kirkos –circle)
  • Aeruginosus : Latin word for rusty derived from aeruginis- copper rust

Vernacular Names:  Hindi: Kutar, Kulesir, Safed sira, Sans: Kucch patri, Pun: Chhanbhi kirla mar, Ben: Pan cheel, Tika bauri, Guj: Pan pattayi/pattai, Mar: Daldal sasana, Daldal harin, Daldali Bhovtya Ori: Pani chila, Ta: Poonai parundu, Te: Tella tala pilligadda, Mal: Karitappi, Sinh: Ukussa, Kurulla goya

Distribution in India:  Widespread winter visitor in India.

Description: Size of 42-54 cm. The male is generally brown above, particularly on back; underparts streaked, but solid dark brown at least on belly and vent; plumage becomes progressively paler with age. The female is larger than the male; usually brown with yellowish-cream crown, throat and forewing. There are all-dark or melanistic morph in some adults. The juvenile is similar to female, but lacks pale shoulder; often completely dark chocolate except for creamy crown and throat.

Habitat: It is found in dense marsh vegetation, especially reeds and reed mace, in aquatic habitats of both fresh and brackish water, sometimes in areas lacking stretches of open water. Found also in other aquatic habitats. Found up to 2000 m.

Food Habits: It eats small mammals and birds and, especially in winter quarters, large insects. It feeds on rodents, voles, mice, gerbils, steppe lemmings and ground-squirrels. The birds eaten are particularly aquatic birds like coot and ducks. Insects eaten include grasshoppers, locusts, beetles, crickets and dragonflies. Reptiles like snakes and lizards and frogs are also eaten. It hunts in typical harrier fashion, gliding low over flat open ground on its search for prey, with its wings held in a shallow V-shape and often with dangling legs attempting to surprise prey and then diving on them on ground or in water.

Breeding Habits: They breed in Northern Europe in May-June. They nest on ground, in tall, dense marsh vegetation of reeds. The nest is pile of reeds, reedmace and rushes built by female, but both adults add material throughout breeding. They lay a clutch of 3-6 eggs, laid at intervals of 1–2 days; replacement lying can occur .The incubation is done by female for a period of 31-38 days. The fledging period is 35-40 days. The chicks stay with adults for a further 25-40 days.