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Dieren en planten

Birds   Harriers   Marsh harrier   Hen harrier   Bird Protection   

Marsh harrier


48-55 centimeters
wingspan: 110-125 centimeters

color (adults):

males: wings grey and brown, black-tipped, chestnut belly, rest is greyish; females: mainly brown with a cream-colored crown and chin, and cream line towards wings


rats, mice, (young) rabbits, fish, frogs, aquatic birds no larger than the common coot, eggs, insects


man, through decline in marshlands and sand grounds; recreation

Dutch status:

nesting bird; migratory and winter guest (Wadden Island birds migrate)


marshland, dense reedbeds, open wet environments


4-5 eggs; maturity: 3 years

life span:

6 years (maximum known age: + 20 years)

winter home:

not found on Wadden Islands in the winter

  • Dut: Bruine Kiekendief
  • Eng: Marsh Harrier
  • Fren: Busard des roseaux
  • Ger: Rohrweihe
  • Dan: Rørhøg
  • Nor: Sivhauk
  • Frisian: Brune Hoanskrobber
  • Ital: Falco di palude
  • Lat: Circus aeruginosus
Marsh harrier, foto fitis, adriaan dijksen

Marsh harrier

Marsh harriers in the air are easiest to recognize by their long wings held in a shallow V as they fly low along the open space. They make large circles as they watch for prey, mostly gliding with occasional powerful wingbeats. Sometimes, they force water fowl to take cover under water so often that they become exhausted and are easily grabbed with their long legs. Although they also nest on the Wadden Islands, they go south for the winter, staying anywhere between the Flevopolders and Africa.

On Texel

In the 1990s, around thirty pairs of marsh harriers nested on Texel. In 2008, the numbers declined to 18. Marsh harriers are called 'skors' by Texelaars. A skor is island dialect for someone who strolls around.

  • How far does a marsh harrier migrate?
    Marsh harrier, foto fitis, sytske dijksen

    Birds fitted with transmitters have given us more insight into their migrating habits. Adult female marsh harriers fly an average of 4425 kilometers from their nest when migrating while adult males fly more than 5250 kilometers. Juveniles only average around 1475 kilometers. The average number of flying days for all marsh harriers is 23-24 days. The maximum number of kilometers flown in one day by females was 543, by males 514 and by juveniles 332 kilometers.

  • Protection
    • Monitoring: Network Ecological Monitoring
    • Policy: Target Species List
    • National legislation: Flora and Fauna Regulation
    • European Agreement: Bird Directive, CITES ordinance
    • International: Bern Convention, Bonn Convention