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Pallid harrier

Circus macrourus

Foto: Pallid harrier
Váhy a míry
Délka od 40 do 48 cm
Stav ohrožení
Popis zvířete
The Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus) is a captivating bird of prey that belongs to the Accipitridae family, which encompasses eagles, hawks, and kites. This slender raptor is known for its exceptional agility in flight, primarily due to its long wings and tail which facilitate its adept maneuverability. It is a medium-sized harrier, with males and females exhibiting notable sexual dimorphism, not just in size but also in their plumage.

Adult males are distinguished by their striking appearance. They possess a pale grey upper body contrasted with black wingtips. Their underparts are predominantly white, and they have a distinctive white face with a contrasting black eye stripe, giving them a somewhat masked appearance. The males’ overall pallid coloration is what gives the Pallid Harrier its name. In contrast, females and juveniles are predominantly brown with a streaked underbody and a more camouflaged appearance, which is advantageous for nesting and protection from predators.

Pallid Harriers are migratory birds, breeding across the steppes and open grasslands of Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Their breeding habitat is characterized by wide, open landscapes where they construct their nests on the ground, hidden among tall grasses or crops. This habitat preference is closely linked to their hunting strategy, which involves gliding low over fields and marshes to surprise their prey. Their diet is varied, consisting primarily of small birds and rodents, which they catch with precision thanks to their agile flight and keen vision.

During the winter months, Pallid Harriers migrate to the warmer climates of the Indian subcontinent and Africa, where they can be seen soaring over open fields and savannahs. This migration is a testament to their endurance and adaptability, covering thousands of kilometers across diverse landscapes.

The Pallid Harrier is classified as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), primarily due to habitat loss and degradation. Agricultural expansion and intensification have led to the loss of their natural grassland habitats, while pesticide use has reduced their prey base. Conservation efforts are crucial to ensure the survival of this species, including habitat protection and management, as well as research and monitoring to better understand their migration patterns and ecological needs.

Despite the challenges they face, Pallid Harriers continue to captivate bird watchers and nature enthusiasts with their graceful flight and distinctive appearance. Their presence in the skies is a reminder of the importance of conserving the natural landscapes that support such incredible biodiversity.
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