Hen Harrier

There are two populations or subspecies of Hen harriers that migrate from the northern latitudes. In India they are not a common species and identification is often mixed up with sightings of Pallid/Montagu’s harriers.

Breeding and migration

In the mildest regions such as France, Great Britain, and the southern US, hen harriers may be present all year. The birds that breed in Eurasia move to southern Europe and southern temperate Asia. The American birds move to Mexico and Central America. In India, they are an uncommon species and are known to winter along the lower Himalayas.


Prefer barren Himalayan slopes and grasslands. Found in colder regions.


Being larger prefers relatively larger birds in comparison to the diet of the other Harriers mentioned earlier. But their diet in India is not known.

Hen Harrier (adult male)

Photo: MV Shreeram

Hen Harrier (adult female)

Photo: Dibyendu Ash, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 4.0

Hen Harrier (male)

Photo: Peter von Bagh, Wikimedia Commons, shared under CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication

Note:This bird was pictured in Finland and may belong to the western populations of Circus cyaneus

Hen Harrier (female)

Photo: Rob Zweers, Wikimedia Commons, shared under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Note:This bird was pictured in Netherlands and may belong to the western populations of Circus cyaneus