Pallid harrier

   ›      ›   Pallid harrier - Circus macrourus.

The pallid harrier (Circus macrourus) belongs to the family Accipitridae. These pallid harrier species are distributed in Asia, Indian Subcontinent, Europe and Africa.

Taxonomy of Pallid harrier

  • Scientific Name: Circus macrourus
  • Common Name: Pallid harrier
  • French: Busard p├óle; German: Steppenweihe; Spanish: Aguilucho papialbo;
  • Other names: Falco macrourus S. G. Gmelin, 1770; Pale harrier;
  • Family: Accipitridae › Accipitriformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Species author: S. G. Gmelin, 1770
Circus macrourus is closely related to C. pygargus and C. cyaneus.

Indian birds - Image of Pallid harrier - Circus macrourus
Indian birds - Image of Pallid harrier - Circus macrourus


The pallid harrier is a small bird, measuring 40 to 50 cm in length and weighing 230 to 400 grams. The female harrier is slightly larger and weighs 400 to 550 grams. The wingspan is 100 to 120 cm. The males and females have different distinct plumages. The male harrier is whitish grey on the upper parts and white on underparts. The wingtips are black. The female has brown upper parts with white upper tail coverts. Not much is known about their calls and sounds.


The pallid harrier inhabits open plains, bogs and heathland. It winters in open country.

Feeding habits

The pallid harrier feeds on small mammals like rats and mice, birds, reptiles, frogs and large insects.


The pallid harrier breeding season is during May and June. The nest is built on the ground and four to six eggs are seen in the nest.


The pallid harrier is distributed in Europe, Asia, Indian Subcontinent and Africa. Breeding populations are found in southern parts of eastern Europe and central Asia including Asiatic Russia, Kazakhstan, north-west China Azerbaijan, Romania, Turkey and Ukraine. They migrate and winter in tropical African countries including Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Namibia, Botswana, Swaziland and South Africa. They also migrate to the Middle East and Indian subcontinent.

Movement Patterns

The pallid harrier is completely migratory, the birds in the northern regions migrating southwards for wintering.

Status and conservation

The pallid harrier global population is estimated at 9,000 to 15,000 pairs. The habitat loss due the destruction and degradation of steppe grasslands and their conversion to agricultural lands, burning of vegetation, intensive grazing of pastures and reduced availability of prey are the main threats to the survival of these bird species.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated these harrier species and has listed them as "Near Threatened".

Biological classification of Circus macrourus
Species:C. macrourus
Binomial name:Circus macrourus
Distribution:Asia, Europe, parts of Africa, Indian Subcontinent;
Feeding habits:large insects, reptiles, small mammals, frogs and birds;
IUCN status listing:
Near Threatened

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