Juvenile Harrier Color

posted by Jerry Liguori at
on Sunday, October 13, 2013 

It has been said that juvenile male Harriers have paler underwing coverts than juvenile females. This is not really true, there is considerable overlap, and sexing juvenile Harriers based on plumage is inaccurate at best. The eye color does differ in juveniles (males yellowish, females brown), but that is almost impossible to see in flight. And, shape and flight style of males and females differs slightly but it takes lots of practice to be comfortable noticing this. Females are of course larger, but this is really only noticeable with a direct comparison. The best way to sex juvenile Harriers in the field is NOT TO! Check out these birds below (shown small for a reason), would you feel comfortable telling the sex of any?

Anonymous Mia McPherson said...

I gave up a long time ago trying to sex juvenile Harriers. It made me a little bonkers. In answer to your question, no, I would not feel comfortable giving the sex of the birds in your images.

October 14, 2013 at 4:02 AM  
Blogger Ron Dudley said...

I wouldn't feel comfortable attempting to sex them either. Is the reason you "showed these birds small" so we couldn't see the eye colors well? If so, crafty fellow...

October 14, 2013 at 5:28 PM  
Blogger Jerry Liguori said...

Hi Ron and Mia was to make a point that underwing coor and body plumage cannot be used to sex juveniles

October 14, 2013 at 8:03 PM  
Blogger Wally Jones said...

Timely article (even if I'm late reading it.....)! We're beginning to see Northern Harriers migrating through our area in central Florida and I've already seen birds similar to your photo examples. Female? Juvenile? Now I know the answer is a solid "maybe"!

Thanks for continuing to help my education process.

October 25, 2013 at 8:19 PM  
Blogger Jerry Liguori said...

Thanks Wally....hope you see lots of hawks, would love to be down there.

October 26, 2013 at 4:56 AM  
Blogger mike said...

Great post Jerry. Love being able to refer back to articles like this, especially now when NOHAs are appearing in large numbers here in the valley.

December 13, 2013 at 8:59 PM  
Blogger Jerry Liguori said...

Thanks Mike, I appreciate the comment!!!

December 13, 2013 at 9:06 PM  

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