Circus aeruginosus

Circus aeruginosus, Lin.

54. :- Jerdon's Birds of India, Vol. I, p. 99; Butler, Guzerat; Stray Feathers, Vol. III, p. 447 ; Deccan, Stray Feathers, Vol. IX, p. 374; Murray's Vertebrate Zoology of Sind, p. 89 ; Swinhoe and Barnes, Central India; Ibis, 1885, p. 58 ; Hume's Scrap Book, p. 314.


Length, 19 to 21.7; expanse, 47 to 50; wing, 15.6 to 16.75 ; tail, 9.4 to 10.2 ; tarsus, 3.4 to 3.86 ; bill from gape, 1.4 to 1.5.

Length, 21 to 24 ; expanse, 50 to 54 ; wing, 16.2 to 17.1 ; tail, 9.75 to 10.22 ; tarsus, 3.55 to 3.9 ; bill from gape, 1.5 to 1.68.

Legs and feet rich yellow, dingy or pale greenish-yellow in the young; the claws brownish-black; the irides are orange-yellow, sometimes with a pink tinge, deep brown, or brownish-yellow in the young ; the bill is blackish or brownish-black, yellowish at the base, and bluish there in the young; the cere is greenish-yellow, or sometimes pale-greenish, in the young.

The young bird is uniform dark reddish umber-brown; in a further stage the head and throat are yellowish, or rufous-white, with dark stipes on the crown; in some the head is pure white, and the upper tail-coverts and base of the outer tail-feathers are pale reddish.

In the fully adult the head, neck, and breast are pale rufous, with dark brown stripes, deepening to dark red-brown on the belly and thigh-coverts; upper tail-coverts marked with red, white, and brown ; the shoulders, secondaries, and tail pure silvery-grey; back, scapulars and tertiaries deep brown; primaries black.

To this Mr. Hume adds that, as the young bird advances towards maturity, there first appears a large rufous-fawn, or rufous-white patch upon the breast; then the rufous, or yellowish-white of the head and nape begins to run down the back of the neck, and margins of a similar color begin to make their appearanee on the feathers of the upper back and the smaller wing-coverts; the color of the upper parts slightly fades, and a greyish tinge begins to overspread the outer webs of the primaries.

It is probable that the adult plumage, in which the shoulders: secondaries, and tail are silver grey, is only assumed by the male.

The Marsh Harrier is generally spread throughout the district, and (although a few may possibly remain to breed) is a cold weather visitant only. It frequents marshes, rivers, and lakes,; and feeds chiefly on frogs, rats, and water insects.

It often carries off wounded duck and teal.

It seems instinctively to know sportsmen, and not infrequently follows them round a tank or jheel, with a view to dinner. I have often, by their help, retrieved wounded birds that would otherwise have been lost to me.

Handbook to the Birds of the Bombay Presidency
Barnes, Henry Edwin. Handbook to the birds of the Bombay Presidency, 1885.
Title in Book: 
Circus aeruginosus
Spp Author: 
Book Author: 
Barnes, H. Edwin
Page No: 
Common name: 
Marsh Harrier
Western Marsh Harrier
Circus aeruginosus
Term name: 

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