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Northern Harrier in the Snow and Sky

Posted on Mar 2, 2015

I recently photographed this Northern Harrier flying through some heavy snow. These are the most typical sort of views you will have of the species while surveying for them in the field.

Northern Harrier flying in snow-0467

Northern Harrier flying in snow-0468

Northern Harrier flying in snow-0469

The long and thin raptor can often be easily identified swooping low over the land, watching for prey, by the big white patch at the base of the tail. They can be seen in grasslands, farm fields, and coastal areas.

Northern Harrier skyline flight Stratford Point-0097

Northern Harrier skyline flight Stratford Point-0116

If you are one of our friends in Chautuauqa County please remember that we at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History are assisting the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for a second season of wintering raptor surveys in 2014-2015. As we enter March we still need your continuing help! The primary focus of these surveys is to determine where Short-eared Owls (Asio flammeus), ‘endangered’ in New York, and Northern Harriers (Circus cyaneus), ‘threatened’ in New York, are spending the winter season to roost and feed. Western New York’s NYSDEC Region 9 is a large geographical area and we at RTPI volunteered our time and knowledge to assist NYSDEC in covering this vast landscape.

If you are in Chautauqua County please keep the sightings coming! We need assistance from citizen scientists like you in discovering, tracking and recording these birds. Please enter any sightings you have of either species into eBird with as much information as possible including number of birds, precise location, behavior, sex and age, weather, and anything else you feel is relevant. If you cannot use eBird or have any other questions please email me at [email protected] – thank you!

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation & Outreach Coordinator