Northern Harrier – Rare Turrialba sighting

Northern Harrier (Circus hudsonius): Aguilucho norteño; Hudsonweihe; Busard des marais

This is yet another North American migrant with very few sightings in the Turrialba area. It is very well-known to visitors here from the US and Canada but is of greater interest to Ticos here, or indeed our European visitors. This bird was first seen by Cartago eBird compiler Daniel Martínez and another group led by Rancho Naturalista guide Mercedes Alpízar. John Beer captured this shot of what looks to be a first-year juvenile in flight at Angostura against a heavily wooded background:

The second shot gets a slightly better look at the telltale white rump:

The Northern Harrier‘s specialised hunting technique of quartering low over marshland, often quite slowly, is a distinctive feature of its behaviour. It is still widely known in North America as the Marsh Hawk. The eBird database records only one previous sighting for our province of Cartago. This was reported by multiple experienced observers as a female bird at Platanillo in October 2019. The Northern Harrier ranges from the far north of the American continent (hudsonius!!) almost down to South America but I can find no reports south of Panama.

I end this post with an excellent file image of a female Northern Harrier in flight in Florida. Hi Karel!

Female Northern Harrier in Florida; courtesy of Karel Straatman

Migration seems to bring out the raptors, presumably in pursuit of the newly arriving songbirds. Peregrine Falcon, Merlin, Bat Falcon and, most notably for the Turrialba area, Sharp-shinned Hawk have all made recent appearances.

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