Birds Vol 1 #5 – Marsh Hawk

Marsh Hawk for Birds Illustrated by Color Photography, 1897

Marsh Hawk for Birds Illustrated by Color Photography, 1897

Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

Vol 1. May, 1897 No. 5




NE of the most widely distributed birds of North America is the Marsh Hawk, according to Wilson, breeding from the fur regions around Hudson’s Bay to Texas, and from Nova Scotia to Oregon and California. Excepting in the Southern portion of the United States, it is abundant everywhere. It makes its appearance in the fur countries about the opening of the rivers, and leaves about the beginning of November. Small birds, mice, fish, worms, and even snakes, constitute its food, without much discrimination. It is very expert in catching small green lizards, animals that can easily evade the quickest vision.

It is very slow on the wing, flies very low, and in a manner different from all others of the hawk family. Flying near the surface of the water, just above the weeds and canes, the Marsh Hawk rounds its untiring circles hour after hour, darting after small birds as they rise from cover. Their never ending flight, graceful as it is, becomes monotonous to the watcher. Pressed by hunger, they attack even wild ducks.

In New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, where it sweeps over the low lands, sailing near the earth, in search of a kind of mouse very common in such situations, it is chiefly known as the Mouse Hawk. In the southern rice fields it is useful in preventing to some extent the ravages of the swarms of Bobolinks. It has been stated that one Marsh Hawk was considered by planters equal to several negroes for alarming the rice birds. This Hawk when feeding is readily approached.

The birds nest in low lands near the sea shore, in the barrens, and on the clear table-lands of the Alleghanies, and once a nest was found in a high covered pine barrens of Florida.

The Marsh Hawks always keep together after pairing, working jointly in building the nest, in sitting upon the eggs, and in feeding the young. The nest is clumsily made of hay, occasionally lined with feathers, pine needles, and small twigs. It is built on the ground, and contains from three to five eggs of a bluish white color, usually more or less marked with purplish brown blotches. Early May is their breeding time.

It will be observed that even the Hawk, rapacious as he undoubtedly is, is a useful bird. Sent for the purpose of keeping the small birds in bounds, he performs his task well, though it may seem to man harsh and tyranical. The Marsh Hawk is an ornament to our rural scenery, and a pleasing sight as he darts silently past in the shadows of falling night.

Hen (Northern) Harrier (Circus cyaneus) by J Fenton

Hen (Northern) Harrier (Circus cyaneus) by J Fenton

Lee’s Addition:

Is it by your wisdom [Job] that the hawk soars and stretches her wings toward the south [as winter approaches]? (Job 39:26 AMP)

“Hawks are one of our Birds of the Bible and belongs to the Kites, Hawk & Eagles – Accipitridae Family. The Marsh Hawk today is know as the Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus). Most know it as the Northern Harrier or Marsh Hawk. It migrates to more southerly areas in winter. Eurasian birds move to southern Europe and southern temperate Asia, and American breeders to the southernmost USA, Mexico, and Central America. In the mildest regions, such as France, Great Britain, and the southern US, Hen Harriers may be present all year, but the higher ground is largely deserted in winter.

C. c. hudsonius (Linnaeus, 1766), the Northern Harrier, breeds in North America and is sometimes considered a distinct species C. hudsonius. The male’s plumage is darker grey than that of C. c. cyaneus and the female is also darker and more rufous in colour.” (Wikipedia places it with the Hen Harrier)(*Update*) The IOC 3.1 shows the Hen and Northern Harriers re-split. The Northern Harrier is now Circus hudsonius. Are you confused? So am I.

The Hen Harrier is 43–52 cm (17–20 in) long with a 97–118 cm (38–46 in) wingspan. It resembles other harriers in having distinct male and female plumages. The sexes also differ in weight, with males weighing an average of 350 grams (12 oz) and females an average of 530 grams (19 oz).

Northern Harrier (Circus hudsonius) ©WikiC

Northern Harrier (Circus hudsonius) ©WikiC


Birds Illustrated by Color Photograhy Vol 1 May, 1897 No 5 - Cover

Birds Illustrated by Color Photograhy Vol 1 May, 1897 No 5 – Cover

Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited – Introduction

The above article is the first article in the monthly serial that was started in January 1897 “designed to promote Knowledge of Bird-Live.” These include Color Photography, as they call them, today they are drawings. There are at least three Volumes that have been digitized by Project Gutenberg.

To see the whole series of – Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited


(Information from Wikipedia and other internet sources)

Next Article – The Black-Capped Chickadee

Previous Article – The Orchard Oriole


Northern Harrier – All About Birds

Hen Harrier – Wikipedia