New York Natural Heritage Program
Northern Harrier
Circus cyaneus (Linnaeus, 1766)

New York State Distribution [-]
Northern Harriers are confirmed breeders in the western Great Lakes plain, open habitats of the Adirondacks, western Finger Lakes, Long Island, and the Hudson, Saint Lawrence, and Lake Champlain valleys. The winter range is similar depending on prey abundance and snow cover.

Global Distribution [-]
Breeding: In North America, the breeding range of the Northern Harrier ranges from northern Alaska to northern Saskatchewan and southern Quebec; south to northern Baja California, southern Texas, southern Missouri, West Virginia, southeastern Virginia, and North Carolina (and formerly Florida). They breed rarely or erratically south of the North American breeding range (MacWhirter and Bildstein 1996 cited in NatureServe 2003). In Eurasia, Northern Harriers can be found from the British Isles, Scandinavia, northern Russia and Siberia south to the Mediterranean region, southern Russia, Turkestan, Amurland, Ussuriland, Sakhalin, and the Kurile Islands (AOU 1983 cited in NatureServe 2003). The breeding range is large but often highly discontinuous. Non-breeding: During the non-breeding season, Northern Harriers are found in North America from southern Canada or the northern contiguous United States south through the United States, Middle America, and the Antilles to northern Columbia, Venezuela, and Barbados. They are considered casual or accidental in Hawaii (AOU 1983 cited in NatureServe 2003, MacWhirter and Bildstein 1996 cited in NatureServe 2003). In North America, Northern Harriers winter in the largest numbers in the Great Basin and central and southern Great Plains (Root 1988 cited in NatureServe 2003). The coastal areas of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia support the highest number of wintering birds in the Northeast (National Audubon Society 1971-74, 1982-83, 1985-87 cited in NatureServe 2003). In Eurasia, they are found from the British Isles, southern Scandinavia, and southern Japan south to northwestern Africa, Asia Minor, India, Burma, eastern China, and the Ryukyu Islands (AOU 1983 cited in NatureServe 2003).
Best Places to See
• Fort Edward Grasslands (Washington County)
• Galeville Grasslands (Orange, Ulster Counties)
• Point Peninsula (Jefferson County)