Swamp harrier

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Swamp harrier
Circus approximans -New Zealand -with dead hare-8 (2).jpg
Adult female swamp harrier with a hare
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Falconiformes
(or Accipitriformes, q.v.)
Family: Accipitridae
Genus: Circus
Species: C. approximans
Binomial name
Circus approximans
Peale, 1848

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.


The swamp harrier 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 58 cm (20–23 in), 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[edit]

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 harrier mainly feeds on ground birds and waterbirds, rabbits and other small mammals, reptiles, frogs, and fish. During the winter months harriers feed to a large extent on carrion, including roadkill.


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

See also[edit]



External links[edit]

  • Wingspan Birds of Prey Trust - The national centre for the conservation, education and advocacy of birds of prey in New Zealand. Location: Rotorua, NZ