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Order Birds of prey/Accipiterformes, Family Hawks/Accipitridae

Pallid Harrier/Circus macrourus - Male

L 40-50 cm, WS 97-118 cm. Summer visitor (Mar-Sep), winters in Africa. Vagrant to Britain, about one every three years. Habitat, food and nest much as for Montagu’s Harrier.
IDENTIFICATION: Shape similar to Montagu’s Harrier, but differs on average in having slightly broader wing-base and, especially on adult female, shorter and more ample ‘hand’, thus is a trifle more compact and buzzardlike. This comes through in mode of flight as well, which is, again especially in female, somewhat less light and tern-like. Reliable identification, however, can be made only by using plumage characters, too. - Adult male: Very pale; pearl-grey above (without prominent white uppertail-coverts of male Hen Harrier), white below with only faintly darker head and upper breast, wing-tips with narrow black wedges. - Adult female: Very similar to female Montagu’s but told by: almost uniformly dark brown secondaries above, lacking a dark band (but can have a hint); overall darker secondaries below with denser dark bands, and pale bands darkening towards body; trailing edge of ‘hand’ paler than on Montagu’s, and barring of primaries less strong distally; larger underwing-coverts and axillaries dark, only finely spotted pale, or diffusely streaked rufous. Told from very similar female Hen by different wing shape. - Juvenile: Very similar to juvenile Montagu’s but separated by prominent, unspotted pale buff-white neck-collar, enhanced by uniform dark brown sides of neck (‘boa’). Primary bases below often unbarred, leaving pale ‘boomerang’ outside dark tips of coverts. - 1st-summer: Usually like juvenile (but paler and worn), though a few males moult early and show pale belly, a few thin rufous streaks on breast, and greyish central tail-feathers even in Mar.
VOICE: female has thin, whining, monosyllabic whistle, ‘piih’, when receiving food from male. Alarm similar to Montagu’s but on average shorter. Display-call of male high-pitched whinnying trill, ‘dir-r-r-r-r’.

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