Overview

Comprehensive Description

The Swamp Harrier is a large slim-bodied raptor (bird of prey), with long slender legs and a long tail, rounded at the tip. It is mainly dark brown above and the white rump is prominent. It has an owl-like face mask. The wings are long and broad, with 5 'fingers' on the wing tips in flight. Females are larger with rufous underparts, while the smaller male is lighter underneath. The legs and eyes are yellow. This species has a slow sailing flight on up-swept wings, flying low over water. It is also known as the Marsh Harrier. Usually silent, but gives high pitched descending whistle in breeding display.

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Source: Birds of Papua New Guinea

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Distribution

Range

Australasian region and sw Oceania.

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Distribution:


    S New Guinea (breeding uncertain), Melanesia, Australia, New Zealand and Polynesia E to Tonga. Introduced to Society Is.


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Physical Description

Size

50-60 cm, 750 g

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Source: Birds of Papua New Guinea

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Diagnostic Description

The Swamp Harrier is a large slim-bodied raptor (bird of prey), with long slender legs and a long tail, rounded at the tip. It is mainly dark brown above and the white rump is prominent. It has an owl-like face mask. The wings are long and broad, with 5 'fingers' on the wing tips in flight. Females are larger with rufous underparts, while the smaller male is lighter underneath. The legs and eyes are yellow. This species has a slow sailing flight on up-swept wings, flying low over water. It is also known as the Marsh Harrier. Usually silent, but gives high pitched descending whistle in breeding display.

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Source: Birds of Papua New Guinea

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
  • Marine
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The Swamp Harrier is found in terrestrial wetlands and open country of tropical and temperate Australia and New Zealand. It is mainly seen in fresh or salt wetlands, often in deep swamps with emergent reeds and over open water. In New Zealand it is more widely found, not just in wetlands.

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Trophic Strategy

Swamp Harriers hunt for birds and eggs, large insects, frogs, reptiles and small mammals up to the size of hares or rabbits. When hunting they 'quarter', which means that they systematically search for prey by gliding low to the ground or water, then drop down on to their quarry. In New Zealand, Swamp Harriers often feed on carrion (dead animals).

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

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Reproduction

The nest of the Swamp Harrier is made of straw and grasses, hidden above the water in dense reeds in a swamp or in crops or long grasses near water. They usually nest in single pairs. The female incubates and broods the young, while the male hunts for food. He transfers the food to the female in the air, before she feeds it to the young. Breeding season: September to December Clutch size: Three to six Incubation: 33 days Time in nest: 42 days.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Circus approximans

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s

Justification
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
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Not Threatened.

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Population

Population
The population is estimated to number in the tens of thousands.

Population Trend
Stable
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Wikipedia

Swamp Harrier

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.

Description[edit]

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.

Behaviour[edit]

Diet[edit]

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.

Breeding[edit]

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]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

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