Montagu’s harrier migration, new research

This video is called Montagu’s Harrier – Britain’s Rarest Raptor.

Results of ten years of research into Montagu’s harrier migration were published recently.

Providing harriers with satellite transmitters proved there are three main ways for the birds to cross the Mediterranean sea on their autumn migration from Europe to Africa: through Spain, through Italy and through Greece (a newly discovered flyway, which only east European birds use).

Montagu’s harriers from the Netherlands use only the two western flyways.

Montagu's harriers flyways to Africa

In Africa, they winter in areas where they can feed on locusts.

When, in spring, the harriers fly back north, Morocco is an important stop over area for them. That is also a new discovery.

The new research was published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

The importance of northwest African stopover sites for Dutch, German and Danish Montagu’s Harriers: here.

Farmers and birdwatchers are being urged to keep a lookout for Montagu’s harriers – the rarest breeding bird of prey in the UK, which nests almost entirely on arable farmland: here.

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36 thoughts on “Montagu’s harrier migration, new research

  1. Pingback: Garden birds, video | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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    • Indeed:

      “On the Indian subcontinent, notably NW India, large roosts have been found, containing several thousand individuals (Clarke 1996b, 1998).

      These birds are most likely to come from the eastern breeding grounds. The latter population may also, at least partly, winter in eastern and southern Africa, given the vast migration of Montagu’s Harriers observed in Georgia during early autumn 2008 (B. Verhelst unpubl.), and the average migration directions attributed to birds recovered along the Dnepr, Don and east of the Volga (Mihelsons & Haraszthy 1985).”

      Click to access Trierweiler_Koks_2009.pdf


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  6. I once witnessed a Greek on a beach (in Greece) netting small songbirds. When I learned it was to eat them, I was shocked, appalled, and, frankly, couldn’t imagine how a bird smaller than a thumb (including feathers) could possibly have food value. I later learned this practice is one reason for declining songbird populations in Europe and Africa.

    I’ve also witnessed and helped net birds to be banded, here in North America. I live in the state (Nebraska) where the Whooping crane and Sandhill cranes stop on the Platte River to rest and build fat reserves during their migrations through the Central Flyway. It is a major event. In my state, at least, the Sandhill cranes aren’t hunted, but other states along the route do allow it, putting at risk the endangered Whooping cranes, a larger, unmistakably different species. Though there are severe penalties for killing a Whooping crane, they sometimes are mistaken for Sandhills cranes in those states that allow hunting this most abundant crane species in the world.

    Good luck with your efforts to inform your followers on birds. Knowledge brings on responsibility to deal with hunting and habitat issues that hurt the species and leave out time in nature less satisfying for lack of or diminished birdsong…!


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