Reunion Harrier (Circus maillardi)

Reunion Harrier

[order] ACCIPITRIFORMES | [family] Accipitridae | [latin] Circus maillardi | [authority] Verreaux, 1862 | [UK] Reunion Harrier | [FR] Busard de Maillard | [DE] Madagaskarweihe | [ES] Aguilucho lagumero Malgache | [NL] Reunionkiekendief


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Circus maillardi AF La Reunion


The genus Circus is a cosmopolitan genus of about ten species. They are medium-sized, slender hawks, the female being considerably larger than the male. They are characterised by long, narrow, rounded tails, small beaks and long, slender legs. The most notable characteristic is the owl-like ruff of facial feathers that cover unusually large ear openings – an adaptation not for low-light hunting, but to locate prey by their rustling and squeaking in tall grasses.

Physical charateristics

Large harrier. Male has mainly black head and dark back, contrasting with light grey primaries/secondaries, unbarred tail, and white rump, belly, and underwings. Female and immature dark brown, with barred tail. Whitish rump at all ages.

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 54 cm size max.: 59 cm
incubation min.: 33 days incubation max.: 36 days
fledging min.: 45 days fledging max.: 50 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 3  


Africa : La Reunion


When breeding, it largely occupies indigenous and degraded forests, although rarely tall, dense forest – mostly between 300 and 700 m. It forages in most habitats, but particularly in wooded and forested habitats (65%), as well as cultivated (sugarcane) fields and pastures (20%) and open grasslands and savannas (15%). Its reproductivity is poor for a member of the Circus genus and is probably related to the lack of natural predators and low benefits of dispersion.


The nest is placed on the ground in a marshy area. It consists of grass and weed stems. Clutch size is 2-3 eggs which are incubated for about a month. The chicks fledge after about 7 weeks.

Feeding habits

Its original diet was probably entirely birds and insects, but now c.50% consists of introduced mammals such as rats, mice and Tenrec Tenrec ecaudatus. It it captures while coursing low over wet vegetation, or by soaring over forest and descending into the canopy.


This species is classified as Endangered since it has an extremely small population and a very small range, within which habitat continues to be lost and degraded.
Poaching and persecution (it is believed to be a predator of chickens) continue, despite protective legislation. Increasing urbanisation, road construction and tourism bring disturbance further into the breeding habitat. Below 1,300 m, cultivation and urbanisation have eliminated native forest from all but the steepest of slopes. Cyclones, heavy rains and fires degrade remaining habitat1 that is already increasingly degraded by exotic plants. Other possible threats include agricultural pesticide use, silvicultural management of some forests, and human hunting pressure on some prey species (e.g. larger birds).
Reunion Harrier status Endangered



Distribution map

Reunion Harrier distribution range map

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