Birds of long and slender form with slight ruff as in Owls. Nostrils longitudinal; tail long ; legs long, slender, upper half of tarsus feathered in front, claws very sharp. Partial to marshy localities, quartering ground for prey of small mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, eggs, etc.; nest on ground ; eggs bluish white, occasionally with a few rufous spots.
Circus mruginosus wruginosus (L.). AIARSII-HARRIER. Fr. Busard harpaye ; Ger. Rohrweihe ; //a/. Albanella ; Swat. Sutnphok.
j Above dark brown, crown and nape rufous with dark striations, greater coverts, inner primaries, secondaries and tail ashy grey ; beneath rufous striated brown ; ruff interrupted in front. 4 Above paler, crown and generally some feathers on carpal ridge ochreous buff ; wings, tail, and underparts uniform red brown. Bill blue black. Cere, legs, feet and iris yellow. 1st primary between 5th and 6th, 4th longest. Wing j 385-420, 385-43o. Tarsus 78-86. Bill 23-27. Young : uniform intense dark brown ; crown (variable), chin, and generally a patch on breast ochreous huff.
Breeds.-13ritish Isles (rare) ; Continental Europe from S. Sweden and about 59° in N. Russia south to Mediterranean and east to Urals ; Lower Egypt ; and in W. Asia. Migrates ; occurs N. Africa on passage. Winters tropical Africa and India. Rare visitor Norway, Denmark, Faroes, Madeira, Canary Islands.
C. seruginosus hartertd Zedlitz. Upper parts darker ;crown whiter, streaks more distinct ; more white on carpal ridge ; beneath variable ; some very white with rufous on abdomen and thighs ; others deep brown and rufous with white only on throat and breast. 9 Whiter on crown and carpal ridge than " xruginosus." Resident.—N.W. Africa and possibly S. Spain and Egypt.
Circus cyaneus cyaneus (L.). HEN - HARRIER. Fr. Busard Saint-Martin ; Ger. liornweihe ; Ikal. Albanella reale ; Swett. 11la Karrhok.
Above grey, occasionally with brown shade ; central tail feathers grey, the others white, irregularly barred or spotted grey ; upper tail coverts white ; beneath, throat and chest grey, breast, abdomen, and under tail coverts white ; primaries white at base, inner webs of secondaries entirely or partly white ; under wing coverts white ; ruff complete. Y Above brown, some rufous margins ; a white patch above and below eye ; primaries beneath white with dark bars ; underparts reddish buff streaked dark brown. Bill black, bluish at base. Cere, legs, feet, and iris yellow. ist primary shorter than 6th, 2nd to 5th emarginate.
Wing 333-355, 9 372-392. Tarsus 66-73. Bill 19-21. Young: more rufous especially on head and underparts.
Breeds.—British Isles ; N. and C. Continental Europe from about Arctic Circle south to Pyrenees and N. Italy, east to Urals ; and throughout N. Asia. Migrates; winters in Egypt and N.W. Africa (rare), E. Africa and India ; occasional birds winter in S. Europe.
Circus macrourus (Gmelin). PALE HARRIER. Ger. Steppenweihe ; Ital. Albanella pallida.
j Above grey, upper tail coverts and tail feathers except central pair barred white ; beneath white, throat and upper breast tinged grey ; ruff complete. ? like ? " cyaneus" but upper tail coverts with rusty spots and underparts tinged rust colour. Bill slaty black, bluish at base. Iris golden yellow. Cere, legs and feet yellow. 1st primary about equal to 6th, 2nd to 4th emarginate, 5th not marginate ; cmargination of znd begins close to coverts. Wing j 340-360, ? 340-373. Tarsus 65-71. Bil1,18-22. Young : almost uniform rufous on underparts, similar to young of "pygargus" ; iris brown.
Breeds.—Baltic Provinces, S. and C. Russia to about 57' N., Rumania, Bulgaria ; also S.W. Siberia and C. Asia. Occurs on migration in Germany (some breed) and S.E. Europe, Asia Minor, and N.W. Africa. Winters in Egypt (where some breed) and Africa south to Cape Colony and S. Arabia and India. Rare visitor to W. Europe.
Circus pygargus (L.). MONTAGU'S HARRIER. Fr. Busard cendre ; Ger. Weisenweihe ; Ital. Albanella minore ; Szued. Mindre Karrhok.
j Above grey ; primaries black, secondaries white on inner webs, with two dark bars visible above ; beneath, throat and breast grey, abdomen white streaked rufous ; ruff interrupted in front.
? like "macrourus," best distinguished by wing formula. Bill horn black, greenish grey at base below. Cere, legs and feet yellow. Iris yellow. 2nd to 4th primaries emarginate outer webs, emargination of znd begins about 30 m.m. beyond coverts. Wing S ? 355-380. Tarsus 57-61. Bill 16-59.
Breeds.—England ; Continental Europe south of Baltic, S. and C. Russia and Urals from about 57' ; N. Morocco ; also C. Asia to Mongolia. Migrates ; occurs on passage Mediterranean Islands, Tunisia, and Algeria. Winters in Egypt, tropical and S. Africa, and India.