Aust birds    Bird names   News   1-26    Habitats    Key plants    Glossary    Plumage    Nests    Tips    Thumbnails    Gen. info    Sponsors    Photos for sale   
NON-PASSERINES     1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10     11     12     13     14 15     16     17     18     19     20     21     22     23     24     25     26     PASSERINES
Common names sorted alphabetically: A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   W   Y  

6

Swamp Harrier

(Circus approximans)
Alternate name(s): "Marsh Harrier", "Gould's Harrier", "Swamp-hawk", "Wheat-hawk"
Aboriginal name(s): "tjuRk" [tjapwurrung]; "djilyoordo" (WA)

Size: 50-60 cm; wing span 1.2-1.5 m
Weight: 0.5-0.7 kg (male), 0.7-1.0 kg (female)

Similar
species

Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Swamp Harrier at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

ADULT

MALE

Near-dorsal view of a Swamp Harrier in flight; the general paleness of its plumage and the absence of barring on the tail characterize this bird as an old male (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Near Cape Banks, La Perouse, Sydney, NSW, December 2017]

Near-lateral view of a male Swamp Harrier in flight
[Macquarie Marshes NR, NSW, April 2017]

Lateral view of a male Swamp Harrier in flight; note the thin dark trailing edge on the underwing and the near-white leg feathers typical of a male
[Macquarie Marshes NR, NSW, April 2017]

FEMALE

Near-frontal view of a harrying female Swamp Harrier in flight; note the rufous leg feathers typical of a female
(photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Sandy Camp Wetlands, Lytton, QLD, September 2018]

Lateral view of a hovering Swamp Harrier in flight (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Ensay South, East Gippsland, VIC, November 2014]

Lateral view of a female Swamp Harrier in-flight, being harassed by a Little Eagle (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Bedourie, QLD, August 2022]

Distant near-dorsal view of a female Swamp Harrier in flight (photo courtesy of C. Pears)
[Lake Herdsman, Perth, WA, September 2022]

Sex unknown

Near-frontal view of a Swamp Harrier in flight (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Ensay South, East Gippsland, VIC, November 2014]

Near-dorsal view of a Swamp Harrier in flight, probably an immature male moulting into adult plumage
(photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Ensay South, East Gippsland, VIC, November 2014]

Close-up dorsal view of a Swamp Harrier in flight, showing clearly the characteristic white rump of an adult bird
[Macquarie Marshes NR, NSW, April 2017]

Dorsal view of a Swamp Harrier in flight, upsetting the local Grey Teals (photo courtesy of M. Windeyer)
[Near Gilgandra, NSW, June 2020]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Lateral view of a juvenile Swamp Harrier in flight (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Lake Omeo, Benambra, East Gippsland, VIC, February 2017]

Lateral/ventral view of a juvenile Swamp Harrier in flight, showing the underwing pattern
[Hunter Wetlands NP, NSW, July 2013]

Dorsal view of a juvenile Swamp Harrier in flight
[Hunter Wetlands NP, NSW, December 2016]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Sep - Dec Eggs: 2 - 5 Incubation period: 32 - 34 days Fledging age: 42 - 45 days

Nest building: Female (& male?) Incubation: Female Dependent care: Female & male

Nest

"bungobittah", "lar", "malunna", "jindi" [bundjalung] = nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Basket Material: Reeds, other plants Height above ground: N/A

Unusually for a raptor, Swamp Harriers do not nest in a major fork of a tall tree, but on a, potentially anchored but floating, platform in reeds.

Female Swamp Harrier carrying nest material - click on image to see the reeds the bird is flying over
(photo courtesy of C. Pears)
[Lake Herdsman, Perth, WA, October 2022]

Eggs

"boyanga", "booyanga", "derinya", "dirandil", "koomura", "mirk", "ngampu", "nooluk", "pateena", "pum-pum" = Egg; "dirundirri" = eggs [Aboriginal]; "gawu" = eggs [gamilaraay]

Size: 52 x 40 mm Colour: White Shape: Ellipsoidal

Behaviour

Like all species of harriers, Swamp Harriers use a hunting technique called "harrying". An example of this technique is shown HERE.

Food, Diet

Adults: Birds, small mammals Dependents: As adults Water intake: None

All raptors are carnivores. Swamp Harriers prey on water birds and waders.

During the first few weeks, raptors feed their chicks with pieces of meat. Later on in their development, the chicks learn to tear apart their parents' prey.

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

Would you like to contribute photos or sound recordings to this site?
If interested, please CLICK HERE. Credits to contributors are given HERE.