The Harrier Hawk

»» The Harrier Hawk and other Hawks as a meaning of the word Netz in the Bible
In the diagram below a  pair of Harrier Hawks can be seen flying below the rock on which the Peregrine Falcon has perched, and engaged in pursuing one of the smaller birds.
Harrier Hawks below a Peregrine Falcon
Harrier Hawks flying below a perched Peregrine Falcon


The name of harrier appears to be given to these birds on account of their habit of regularly quartering the ground over which they fly when in search of prey, just like hounds when searching for hares. This bird is essentially a haunter of flat and marshy lands, where it finds frogs, mice, lizards, on which it usually feeds. It does not, however, confine itself to such food, but will chase and kill most of the smaller birds, and occasionally will catch even the leveret, the rabbit, the partridge, and the curlew.

When it chases winged prey, it rarely seizes the bird in the air, but almost invariably flies above it, and gradually drives it to the ground. It will be seen, therefore, that its flight is mostly low, as suits the localities in which it lives, and it seldom soars to any great height, except when it amuses itself by rising and wheeling in circles together with its mate. This display generally takes place before nest-building. The usual flight is a mixture of that of the kestrel and the falcon, the harrier sometimes poising itself over some particular spot, and at other times, shooting forwards through the air with motionless wings.

Unlike the falcons and most of the hawks, the harrier does not as a rule perch on rocks, but prefers to sit very upright on the ground, perching generally on a mole-hill, stone, or some similar elevation. Even its nest is made on the ground, and is composed of reeds, sedges, sticks, and similar matter, materials that can be procured from marshy land. The nest is always elevated a foot or so from the ground, and has occasionally been found on the top of a mound more than a yard in height. It is, however, conjectured that in such cases the mound is made by one nest being built upon the remains of another. The object of the elevated nest is probably to preserve the eggs in case of a flood.

At least five species of harriers are known to exist in the Holy Land, two of which are among the British birds. These two are the Marsh harrier, sometimes called the Duck Hawk or the Moor Buzzard, and also the Hen harrier which is sometimes called the White Hawk, Dove Hawk, or Blue Hawk (on account of the plumage of the male which differs greatly according to age) or the Ring-tailed Hawk (on account of the dark bars which appear on the tail of the female). All the harriers are remarkable for the circlet of feathers that surrounds the eyes, and which resembles in a lesser degree the bold feather-circle around the eye of the owl tribe.


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