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The Hen Harrier

The Hen HarrierThe Hen Harrier is a rare Bird of Prey found in the uplands during the breeding season throughout the spring and summer, and on the lowlands during the autumn and winter. Its breeding has however declined over the years and this has been put down to a loss of habitat mainly due to forestation. Too much forestry means that the ground is blocked and the Harrier cannot fly between trees. This is a problem, as they tend to fly lower to the ground than most other Birds of Prey and prefer to nest on the ground in heather bogs and Mountain Glens. It is now estimated that there are only 132 breeding pairs making the Hen Harrier more rare than the Corncrake.

One of the most striking elements about this bird is the difference in appearance between the male and female. The Male has a distinctive white or silver coating with broad black tips to the wings, while the larger female has a rich brown plumage with a white rump and a brown and white barring on the tail. It's a difference so profound, that many believed they were separate species.

To learn more about this incredible creature or if you spot one, then please click on the links below and report your sightings.

If you would like more information on any of the birds featured in this week's programme click on the links below:
www.npws.ie
www.ucc.ie/planforbio/en