Birds – Hen Harrier

In the Old World our Marsh Hawk is replaced by the hand-some Hen Harrier (C. cyaneus), which ranges in summer over northern Europe and northern Asia, and in winter is found throughout the Indian peninsula and China. It is smaller than our species, the male being about twenty-one and the female twenty-two inches long, the former being bluish gray above and white below, and the latter reddish brown with the under parts pale reddish yellow, streaked and spotted with deep orange-brown. These differences between the sexes are so great that they were long regarded as representing distinct species, and it was not until a brood had been reared from the nest that they were proved to be the same. The Hen Harrier was formerly an abundant bird in the British Islands, but it has been subjected to such incessant persecution by gamekeepers and others that it is almost exterminated, being practically confined as a breeding bird to the wildest moors of Wales and the Scotch Highlands. In other parts of Europe it is more abundant, where, like its American relative, it places its nest on the ground in marshes. The eggs, four to six in number, are of a pale bluish white color, in some cases spotted with pale brown.