Sea BirdsWild Birds

Swamp Harrier

Swamp Harrier (Circus approximans


The Swamp Harrier, Circus approximans, also known as the Marsh Harrier, Australasian Harrier, Kāhu, Swamp-hawk or New Zealand Hawk is a large, slim bird of prey in the family Accipitridae.

Swamp Harrier Flying in the Sky
Swamp Harrier Flying in the Sky


The Swamp Harriers is largely dark brown, becoming lighter with age, and has a distinct white rump. It hunts by flying slowly, low to the ground, on upswept wings.

The body length is 50 to 60 cm, and the wingspan is 120 to 145 cm. The recorded weights of adults range from 580 to 1100 g, and females are significantly larger than the males.

Distribution and habitat

The Swamp Harrier is widespread through Australasia and many islands in the south-west Pacific region, including much of Australia (except the arid region), New Zealand, Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia. It is usually found in wetlands and well-watered open country.


The Swamp Harriers mainly feeds on ground birds and waterbirds, rabbits and other small mammals, reptiles, frogs and fish. It also known to feed on carrion where available, including roadkill.

Swamp Harrier on the Sky
Swamp Harrier on the Sky


This species nests on the ground, often in swamps, on a mound in reeds or other dense vegetation. The clutch size may range from 2 to 7, but is usually 3 or 4. The incubation period is about 33 days, with chicks fledging about 45 days after hatching.


  1. BirdLife International (2004). . 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. Retrieved on 18 Jan 2008. Database entry includes brief justification for why the species is of least concern

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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