Black Harrier | Circus maurus

Robert's Bird Of Prey Information: Black Harrier

The Black Harrier is a Southern African bird that belongs to the Accipitridae bird family group which includes birds such as Raptors, Old Vultures, Osprey.

The description for the Black Harrier (Latin name Circus maurus) can be found in the 7th Edition of the Roberts Birds of Southern Africa. The Circus maurus can be quickly identified by its unique Roberts identification number of 168 and the detailed description of this bird is on page 502. You will find a picture of the Black Harrier on page 528.

NOTE: The reference for the information following is "Roberts Birds of Southern Africa", 7th Edition*. This edition contained a number of taxonomic changes as well as changes to English names used traditionally and in earlier editions of most bird books in South Africa. The following paragraph notes such changes if any.

There have been no changes in the common name between the Roberts 6th and Roberts 7th Edition. There have been no changes in the Latin name for the Black Harrier between the Roberts 6th and Roberts 7th Edition.

The Black Harrier is known in Afrikaans as Witkruisvleivalk (-paddavreter).

The Black Harrier is Endemic to the Southern African Region which means that this bird is only found in this region and nowhere else in the world.

The Black Harrier has a height of 53 cms and weighs around 375 gms. The head is coloured black while the bill is coloured grey. The Circus maurus has a black coloured throat, yellow legs and a black coloured back. The eyes are yellow.

Take note of the bird's main distinguishing features such as colour, size and leg length relative to the body size of the bird. Colours of a bird's body parts can be helpful. Be aware what may appear brown to one person is described in Roberts Birds using some other word ... for example brown, black. See colours used in Roberts.

Head is black.

Eyes are yellow.

Bill is grey.

Legs are yellow.

Throat is black.

Back is black.

Black Harrier Feeding Habits ...

This bird forages for food on the ground.

This bird hunts for small reptiles such as lizards, geckos and bush snakes. The Black Harrier strikes poisonous snakes on the head with one fatal blow which kills the snake instantly. There have been cases were this bird has been killed by a snake while hunting. Some birds have been blinded by Cobra venom.

The diet includes small mammals such as rabbits, field mice and other rodents. Rodents are usually taken from the ground and killed using the sharp claws. The Black Harrier uses its hard bill to tear up the flesh.

Black Harrier Breeding, Habitat and Nesting Habits ...

The Black Harrier is a monogamous bird which means that the bird finds and breeds with one partner for the rest of its life. The bird lays between 1 to 3 eggs and they are coloured white.

The nest is built high up in the tree canopy and is protected from predators by branches and the dense green foliage.

The Black Harrier is mainly found in light and densely wooded forests, where there are Mopane trees.

This bird is very common in most of the Southern African Forests.

Seen in Flocks, Singles or Pairs Normally ...

The Black Harrier is mainly seen singly or in pairs in the wild.