Madagascar Marsh Harrier (Circus maillardi) - Wiki
Madagascar Marsh Harrier
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[Photo] Madagascar Marsh Harrier (Circus maillardi). Specimen in R??union Natural History Museum. Photo d'un papangue naturalis?? au Mus??um d'histoire naturelle de la R??union. Photo by Thierry Caro (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Thierry_Caro). License: public domain.
The Madagascar Marsh Harrier (Circus maillardi) is a bird of prey belonging to the marsh harrier group of harriers which inhabits the Indian Ocean islands of Madagascar, R??union and the Comoros. It is also known as the Madagascar Harrier, Malagasy Marsh Harrier, R??union Marsh Harrier or R??union Harrier. There are two subspecies: Circus maillardi maillardi on R??union and Circus maillardi macrosceles on Madagascar and the Comoros. Increasingly the two are classified as separate species.
The male has a blackish head and back with white streaks and a white belly. The tail is grey, the rump is white and the wings are grey and black with a white leading edge. Females are dark brown with a white rump and barred tail.
In Madagascar it is found in marshland and grassland across the island except for the south. It is generally scarce with the largest numbers in the north-west. On the Comoros it is more often found in drier habitats than on Madagascar. It has occurred on all four main islands but there are no recent records from Mayotte.
On R??union it is typically found in forested upland areas between 300 and 700 m above sea-level. It also visits cane fields and grassland. Today its diet includes many introduced mammals (rats, mice and tenrecs) but it originally fed mainly on birds and insects. The subspecies has a number of adaptations which are unusual among harriers: broad rounded wings for hunting between trees and a short tarsus and long claws which are common among those birds of prey which feed on other birds. It breeds between January and May and lays two or three white eggs.
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