Northern Harriers in flight

Male Northern Harrier in flightMale Northern Harrier in flight – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1000, ISO 800, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

Northern Harriers fascinate me partly because they are sexually dimorphic; meaning that the males and females look different even though they are the same species, and also because of their owl-like facial discs.

The male bird above is in his second year and hasn’t fully gotten his adult plumage which is why there are some browns where grays usually are in adults.

Female Northern Harrier in flightFemale Northern Harrier in flight – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/4000, ISO 640, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

This female has brown plumage and her eyes are a straw color instead of the bright, lemony yellow that adult males have.

Harriers are agile fliers and can turn very rapidly when they are after prey. Right now it is nesting season for the Northern Harriers in Utah, I will be watching them to see if I can photograph any with nesting materials.


Additional posts you might enjoy:

About Mia McPherson

I am a nature lover, wildlife watcher and a bird photographer. I first become serious about bird photography when I moved to Florida in 2004 and it wasn’t long before I was hooked (addicted is more like it). My move to the Salt Lake area of Utah was a great opportunity to continue observing their behavior and to pursue my passion for photographing birds.


  1. Thanks for the comments everyone.

  2. Very cool pics! Would love to see more of them – maybe you will get some of their young as well!


  4. Harriers are stunning raptors. Exceptional photographs, Mia!

  5. Gorgeous Mia! Harriers are some of my favorite birds to spot while out in the field. I just purchased a new lens and the clarity in the pics is some of the best I’ve ever had. They’ll be coming up in posts over the next week some time, but your pics inspire me to do better with the detailed plumage and lighting on birds. Thank you for indirectly teaching me to become a better photographer. Both you and Ms. Tammy take some of the most incredible pictures.

  6. Wow, I didn’t know that about harriers and hopefully if I ever see one now I’ll recognize it! Thanks Mia!!!! Stunning shots as always.

  7. Merrill Ann Gonzales

    The only time I ever saw a Northern Harrier was in the middle of a blizzard or a severe Nor’easter. It almost seemed to be one with the storm… it flew past my window quite startling me. That was some winter as my husband had just been taken to the hospital with a heart attack. The whole winter seems to be a wild whirl in my memory. I often wonder if the bird had been blown off course. The bird always had a ghost-like image in my memory.

  8. Excellent post Mia and beautiful bird!

  9. Jane Chesebrough

    That would be very exciting to see them nesting.I thought that I had seen a hawk owl once but now I think it was a Northern Harrier.It is so good to see the birds come back.

  10. Outstanding photographs, Mia, Harriers are my favorite raptors

  11. A great sense of precise horizontal flight exudes from these shots. Great images. love their faces… thanks Mia

  12. What amazing flight they have!

  13. I love watching the Harriers! We use to have a pair check out the field next door to us each year, but haven’t seen them for a couple years now – a bummer. Beautiful in flight photos, Mia!

Comments are closed