Raptor Wednesday

At Floyd Bennett Field, a male Northern Harrier, a bird known as the Grey Ghost for obvious reasons, surprised me by rising out of the grasslands.
I almost always see females or juveniles, who look quite different.
Not that I see them very often. Last year, I spotted one in a migratory raptor wave rolling over Green-Wood. The grasslands at FBF and the dunes at the city’s Atlantic edge are more typically the place to see them, but even there they are rare. They are listed as “vulnerable” in New York State. Grasslands are generally considered wastelands, and the developer-killers devour them when they can.

This species used to be known as Circus cyaneus but is now known as Circus hudsonius. The split wasn’t too long ago, so my first ed Sibley still has the old designation. At one point (in my 1947 Peterson), they were Circus cyaneus hudsonius. The Latin “circus” comes from the Greek kirkos meaning circle, a circling hawk. Harriers aren’t really circlers, however. They’re hoverers. Circus cyaneus is now reserved the Eurasian Hen Harrier, a bird ruthless and illegal prosecuted in the UK by the serfs of toffs.
Seen also at FBF that day: this male American Kestrel, a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk, and an Accipiter I’m still trying to figure out.

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