PALLID HARRIER · Circus macrourus

L: 41-48 cm. E: 100-120 cm.  Wing:♂310-355 mm,♀345-390 mm. Weight:♂235-415 g.,♀400-550 g. Longevity: < 15 years old.

Coordinators: Alex Ollé, Teresa Montras & Joan Goy





Migratory. From March to May and from August to November. In spring, the main flyway runs through the central part of the Mediterranean while in autumn, the route runs through the East of the Mediterranean region. The breeding area extends from South Russia to North East China. Recentmently, the population of Western Russia has expanded towards Scandinavia, with a small contingent now found in Finland, leading to a new migratory route through Western Europe with wintering grounds in the Iberian peninsula and Morocco. Occasionally, pallid harrier has breed in countries of central and southern Europe, hybrydizing with other harrier species, especially hen harrier.


Annual complete moult between May-June and September-October. Juvenile birds start their first moult in spring of 2cy, followed by a parcial moult (affecting some body and facial feathers and less extensive than Montagu’s harrier) on the wintering grounds.


juvenile males have a distinguish yellow iris and some grey body feathers once the first moult (during spring 2cy) has started.

Similar species:

Montagu’s Harrier and Hen Harrier.


Due to the colonisation of pallid harrier towards North West Europe, hybridisation with other harrier species takes place occasionally, often with hen harrier, exceptionally with Montagu’s harrier.


CLARK W.S. 1997. Identification of perched Montagu’s and Pallid harriers. Birding World 10(7): 267-269.

CLARK W.S., CLARKE R. 1998. Differences in tarsal length between adult female Montagu’s and Pallid Harriers: an easy method to separate specimens. Bulletin British Ornithologists’ Club 118:52-54.

DE BROYER A. 2013. Séjour d’un hybride de Busard pâle Circus macrourus x Saint-Martin Circus cyaneus en Fagne durant l’hiver 2011-2012. Aves 50(1): 23-38.

FORSMAN D. 1995. Field identification of female and juvenile Montagu’s and Pallid Harriers. Dutch Birding 7: 41-54.

FORSMAN, D. 1995. Male Pallid and female Montagu’s Harrier raising hybrid young in Finland in 1993.Dutch Birding 17(3): 102-106.
FORSMAN, D. 2009. Hybrid harriers on the move. Birding World 22(11): 469-470.
FORSMAN, D. 2016. ID Special: Hen, Northern, Pallid and Montagu’s Harriers. Birdwatch 285: 45-52.
FORSMAN, D. & ERTERIUS, D. 2012. Pallid Harriers in Northwest Europe and the identification of presumed Pallid Harrier x Hen Harrier hybrids. Birding World 25(2): 68-75.