Hawk of the bay

Marsh Hawks (or Northern Harriers) don’t typically hunt over open water, as this one did at the Newport Back Bay, but it coursed back and forth several times over flocks of ducks and shorebirds, gliding low, then performing a quick turn to repeat its flight in the opposite direction.

Marsh Hawk or Northern Harrier

Perhaps there were small mammals (their typical prey) running around in the plants at the edge of the marsh.

Marsh Hawks hunt by sound as well as sight, and their head and face has an owlish look with its flattened and rounded facial disk of feathers to capture the slightest whisper of a mouse twitch.

Female Northern Harrier, Wikipedia, photo by Lee Blumin

Female Northern Harrier, from Wikipedia, photo by Lee Blumin


Marsh Hawk or Northern Harrier

Female and juvenile Marsh Hawks are brown with a white spot just ahead of the tail. Males are gray with paler breast and abdomen feathers.

Gliding low over the landscape, a female Marsh Hawk listens for her lunch.  Females are brown with brown straked breast feathers.  Males are gray on top and pale on their underside.  A truly studly male Marsh Hawk may mate with as many as five females, supporting all of them during egg incubation with his foraging prowess!

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