(Circus hudsonius). Patient Number 20-1921.
Date of admission: September 30th, 2020.
Reason for admission: Feather damage.
Long-winged and long-tailed, Northern Harriers are very distinctive hawks. From afar, their round face is often mistaken for that of an owl. Like owls (and unlike most other hawks), they rely more heavily on hearing than sight to locate prey.
Northern Harriers hunt mostly small mammals and birds, but they have been known to tackle bigger prey such as rabbits and ducks. They prefer habitats such as open fields, savanna, meadows, and marshes. Their summers are spent in the northern hemispheres of Canada and the northernmost USA. In winter, they migrate to more southerly areas including Mexico and Central America.
This Northern Harrier was found, unable to fly. After examination at AIWC’s hospital, it was found that she was severely emaciated, and was suffering from significant damage to her flight feathers. We suspect the damage to her feathers resulted from a swather, or similar piece of farming equipment, as it is consistent with other cases we have seen. Often during harvest time, birds of prey will gather to feast on mice and other small mammals that are disturbed in the process.
Due to the extent of her feather damage, she will need to stay with AIWC through the winter until she can go through a feather moult during Summer 2021. Once she has regrown her feathers, and is able to fly well again, she will be released back to the wild. Thank you for helping us to keep her forever wild!