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African Marsh Harrier - BirdForum Opus

Revision as of 13:16, 6 April 2024 by Sbarnhardt (talk | contribs) (Add Variation section and narrative)
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Photo by Alan Manson
Photo taken: Cedara Farm, near Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Circus ranivorus


Dark Morph
Photo © by volker sthamer
Arusha National Park, Tanzania
6 September 2023

Length 44-49 cm, mass 350-690 g; females larger than males.

Adult: Feathers on crown and back are dark brown, edged rufous, and the rump is rufous. The tail is barred brown and grey (male) or dark and pale brown (female), and the undersides of the wings are barred buff and dark brown (male has greyer secondaries). Under parts brown and rufous, streaked white. Legs, feet, eyes and cere yellow and bill greyish.

Juvenile: Dark brown with off-white forehead, nape, shoulders and breast band. Eyes dark brown.


Dark morphs of this species are very rare/


Africa: From South Africa, north to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Kenya.


Circus ranivorus is monotypic.

African Marsh Harrier has in the past been treated as a subspecies of Western Marsh Harrier


Inland and coastal wetlands and adjacent grasslands, croplands and fynbos.


Usually solitary.


Quarters over grassland, croplands or fynbos, flying 1-3 m above the vegetation.


Prey is mainly small mammals; also takes birds, frogs and fish.


Monogamous and territorial. The nest is built with grass and reeds, usually in reeds, near or over water. Two to five eggs are laid.


Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ & Ryan PG (eds) 2005. Robert's Birds of Southern Africa, 7th edition. John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town, South Africa. ISBN 0620340533

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