Unsorted Wild Birds

African Marsh Harriers

Birds of PreyHarrier Information and Species Listing … Harrier Photo Gallery

The African Marsh Harriers (Circus ranivorus) are – as suggested by their common name – birds of prey that occur naturally in Africa.


Distribution / Range

Their range stretches from southern, central and eastern Africa from South Africa north to Sudan. One isolated vagrant record exists from Nigeria. They are particularly common in the Okavango Delta in Botswana.

Their preferred habitats are wetland areas, especially those with reeds. But they will also visit grassland and cultivated farmland.



The African Marsh Harriers measure 45 to 50 cm in length (including the tail).

The plumage is mostly brown with pale streaking on the head, chest and forewing. The abdomen and the thighs are rufous colored. The tail and flight feathers have dark barring.

Males and females look alike.

Juveniles have a dark brown plumage with a pale chest band and pale markings on the head.


Breeding / Nesting

This monogamous species typically builds its nest in reedbeds. The average clutch consists of 3 – 4 white eggs.


Diet / Feeding

They feed on small mammals, such as the Striped Mouse (Rhabdomys pumilio). They also take birds and frogs.


Calls / Vocalizations

These harriers are typically silent, except for the high-pitched, two-note display call.

Species Research by Sibylle Johnson


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Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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