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from that bird at once by its more elegant shape, and by its taper and naked legs. The plumage of the harrier is remarkably soft, like that of the owl, which it also resembles in having a frill more or less distinct round the face. All the harriers vary in colour greatly, and on that account it is difficult to describe them. The males are particularly subject to these changes, becoming more or less ash grey as they grow older; while the females retain their original shade of reddish brown. The marsh harrier is larger than the hen harrier, presently to be noticed, and is met with—as the first half of its name implies—on low grounds, such as the fens of Cambridge and Lincolnshire, which it beats like a dogwhence it has derived its second appellation. It may be seen either flying slowly and smoothly near the ground, or sitting on a stone or low bush, seldom on a tree, looking out for its prey, which it strikes on the ground. It is very voracious, and devours young rabbits, leverets, reptiles, and the young of the game birds. The length of the marsh harrier averages twenty-one inches—the female, as usual, being larger than the male. In the adult male, after the third moult, the beak is bluish black; cere and iris yellow; top of the head and neck, as well as the cheeks, yellowish white, tinged with reddish brown, and streaked with dark brown ; feathers of the upper parts of the body dark reddish brown, edged with a lighter shade ; primaries brownish black ; secondary and tail feathers ash grey; tarsi long, slender, and of a yellow colour; toes yellow ; claws black. In subsequent moults the wing coverts and tertials become more or less of an ash grey ; wing-primaries slate grey; chin and throat nearly white; breast rufous, streaked with dark brown; belly, thighs, and under tail-coverts reddish brown. In the young birds, before moulting, the whole bird is of a chocolate brown, each feather being tipped with a lighter colour. In the second year, the head, neck, chin, and throat become a dull yellow, with an occasional patch of the same colour on the point of the wing. The nest is placed on the ground, in long grass, fern, or rushes, or sometimes in heather or furze. It is formed of small sticks or rushes, and contains three or four eggs, white in colour, pointed at one end, two inches and one line in length, and one inch six lines broad.
THE HEX HARRIER (Circus cyaneas) Thr vie of this species is known as the Dose Hai Blue
while the name Ringtail is applieds fen
arts of the country. The origin
"kely to be
in; rov reak Orown
brown; : brown, th reddish olour, each own; under
THE HEN HARRIER (Circus cyaneus). The male of this species is known as the Dove Hawk, or Blue Hawk; while the name Ringtail is applied to the female in many parts of the country. The origin of the generic term “ Harrier" has already been alluded to, and the specific prefix is given from the fondness for chickens which this bird displays, worrying the hen for them continually, and hence called the Hen harrier. Like the marsh harrier, it is fond of low ground, and it is especially likely to be met with on lands reclaimed from the sea, but still so barren as to be given up to ling and rushes. Here it may be seen hunting near the ground for reptiles, or for leverets, which are partial to such situations; and for this reason the bird is not left unmolested by the keeper. The male and female vary in colour and size, and for a long time they were considered to be two distinct species. Hence they must be separately described.
The adult male or Blue Hawk is about eighteen inches in length; colour as follows: Bill bluish black; cere and iris yellow; lore covered with black hair, radiating from a centre and hiding the nostrils; head, neck, chin, throat, and upper parts of the body and tail ash grey; primaries brown black, not reaching to the end of the tail; breast and belly bluish white; thighs and under tail coverts white; under surface of tail pale greyish white, slightly barred ; legs and toes slender and yellow; claws black (see fig.). The young males, up to the second moulting, are brown, and similar in colour to the female, presently to be described, but of smaller size.
The adult female, known as the Ringtail, is twenty inches long; bill black; cere greenish yellow; iris reddish brown; crown of the head and nape of the neck umber; a narrow collar of reddish brown round the neck; a light-brown streak over the eye; the hairy disc round the bill of a mixed brown and white; upper parts of a uniform umber brown, the smaller wing coverts being edged with reddish brown; primaries brown black; central tail-feather umber brown, those on the outside being dark brown, barred with reddish brown; all the under parts of a reddish buff colour, each feather having a central spot of reddish brown; under