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Endangered Animal Species in Sweden : Montagu's Harrier

The elegant Montagu's harrier is one of Sweden's most threatened migratory bird species. It is a medium-sized bird of prey that is between 39 and 50 cm long and with a wingspan of between 96 and 116 cm. The males are recognized by their blue-grey plumage with black quills, however, it is very similar to the more common hen harrier. One difference that exists between them is that the Montagu's harrier has longer and slimmer wings than the hen harrier, which requires them to take an extra clip in each wing beat to create lift. The females can also be confused with hen harriers, as both are brown.


It breeds in Europe, North Africa, and parts of Iran and China. During the colder months, it moves to the tropical regions of Africa and India. In Sweden, the limit of the species' range, it occurs mainly on Öland and sparingly on Gotland. Currently, it is estimated that there are around ninety adult individuals and are thus categorized as highly threatened on the Swedish Red List.


They build nests in open landscapes with high enough ground vegetation to avoid detection by predators. They prefer areas where there are objects they can sit on and get an overview of the nesting area, such as a post or a tree. If there's a lack of their natural biotope, they like to breed on agricultural land. In western Europe, the goshawk predominantly breeds in agricultural land, making them vulnerable if the crop is harvested too early. In France, many nests are saved by either moving them to a safer location or marking out a protected area that is not harvested.



Image credit: DonaldMacauley / CC BY-SA 2.0


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