Western marsh harrier Circus aeruginosus, photographed by Dino Quinzani.

Belongs within: Accipiter.

Circus, the harriers, is a cosmopolitan genus of relatively long-legged hawks with long square tails, slightly rounded wings, and distinct facial discs. They are mostly found in open country and are named for their habit of flying back and forth (harrying) in search of prey.

Members of the genus are often a streaked brown above in coloration. Some, such as the hen harrier C. cyaneus and cinereous harrier C. cinereus are sexually dimorphic with the males being grey rather than brown dorsally. The long-winged harrier C. buffoni of South America is, as the vernacular name indicates, distinguished by its relatively long wings and tail.

<==Circus Lacépède 1799 (see below for synonymy)CC10
    |--C. buffoniBKB15
    `--+--C. pygargus (Linnaeus 1758)BKB15, L58 (see below for synonymy)
       `--+--+--*C. aeruginosus (Linnaeus 1758)CC10, BKB15, CC10 [=Falco aeruginosusCC10]
          |  `--C. ranivorusBKB15
          `--+--C. macrourusBKB15
             `--+--C. cinereusBKB15
                `--C. cyaneusBKB15
                     |--C. c. cyaneusE52
                     `--C. c. hudsoniusE52
Circus incertae sedis:
  C. approximans Peale 1848 (see below for synonymy)CC10
    |--C. a. approximansS13
    `--C. ‘gouldi’ wolfi Gurney 1865S13
  C. assimilis Jardine & Selby 1828 [incl. C. jardinii, *Spilocircus jardinii]CC10
    |--C. a. assimilisWS48
    `--C. a. rogersi Mathews 1912 [incl. C. approximans inexpectatus Mathews 1912]WS48
  C. dossenusWH02
  C. macroscelesJT12
  C. macropterus [=*Spizacircus macropterus]CC10
  C. maillardiJT12
  C. maurusJT12
  C. melanoleucus (Forst. 1781) [=Falco melanoleucus]M01
  C. pallidusE42
  C. rufusE42
  C. spilonotus Kaup 1847JT12, I92 [=C. aeruginosus spilonotusI92]
  C. teauteensis Forbes 1892CC10 (see below for synonymy)
  C. uliginosus [=Falco uliginosus]J23

Circus Lacépède 1799 [incl. Glaucopteryx Kaup 1844, Pterocircus Kaup 1850, Pygargus Koch 1816, Spilocircus Kaup 1847, Spizacircus Kaup 1845, Strigiceps Bonaparte 1838; Circinae]CC10

Circus approximans Peale 1848 [=Accipiter approximans; incl. Falco aurioculus Ellman 1861, Circus approximans drummondi Mathews & Iredale 1913, C. gouldi Bonaparte 1850, C. approximans gouldi]CC10

Circus pygargus (Linnaeus 1758)BKB15, L58 [=Falco pygargusCC10, *Pygargus pygargusCC10, *Strigiceps pygargusCC10; incl. Falco cineraceusCC10, Circus cineraceusE42, *Glaucopteryx cineraceusCC10, *Pterocircus cineraceusCC10]

Circus teauteensis Forbes 1892CC10 [incl. C. eylesi Scarlett 1953CC10, Accipiter eylesiN10, C. hamiltoni Forbes 1892CC10]

*Type species of generic name indicated


[BKB15] Burleigh, J. G., R. T. Kimball & E. L. Braun. 2015. Building the avian tree of life using a large-scale, sparse supermatrix. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 84: 53–63.

[CC10] Checklist Committee (OSNZ). 2010. Checklist of the Birds of New Zealand, Norfolk and Macquarie Islands, and the Ross Dependency, Antarctica 4th ed. Ornithological Society of New Zealand and Te Papa Press: Wellington.

[E52] Eisenmann, E. 1952. Annotated list of birds of Barro Colorado Island, Panama Canal Zone. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections 117 (5): 1–62.

[E42] Ewer, W. 1842. List of a collection of birds from India. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 10: 91–93.

[I92] Iwahashi, J. (ed.) 1992. Reddo Deeta Animaruzu: a pictorial of Japanese fauna facing extinction. JICC: Tokyo.

[J23] James, E. 1823. Account of an Expedition from Pittsburgh to the Rocky Mountains, performed in the years 1819 and ’20, by order of the Hon. J. C. Calhoun, sec’y of war: under the command of Major Stephen H. Long. From the notes of Major Long, Mr. T. Say, and other gentlemen of the exploring party vol. 1. H. C. Carey & I. Lea: Philadelphia.

[JT12] Jetz, W., G. H. Thomas, J. B. Joy, K. Hartmann & A. Ø. Mooers. 2012. The global diversity of birds in space and time. Nature 491: 444–448.

[L58] Linnaeus, C. 1758. Systema Naturae per Regna Tria Naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio decima, reformata. Laurentii Salvii: Holmiae.

[M01] Madarász, J. 1901. Madarak [Vögel]. In: Horváth, G. (ed.) Zichy Jenő Gróf Harmadik Ázsiai Utazása [Dritte Asiatische Forschungsreise des Grafen Eugen Zichy] vol. 2. Zichy Jenő Gróf Harmadik Ázsiai Utazásának Állattani Eredményei [Zoologische Ergebnisse der Dritten Asiatischen Forschungsreise des Grafen Eugen Zichy] pp. 21–39. Victor Hornyánszky: Budapest, and Karl W. Hierseman: Leipzig.

[N10] Naish, D. 2010. Tetrapod Zoology: Book One. CFZ Press: Bideford (UK).

[S13] Sarasin, F. 1913. Die Vögel Neu-Caledoniens und der Loyalty-Inseln. In: Sarasin, F., & J. Roux (eds) Nova Caledonia: Forschungen in Neu-Caledonian und auf den Loyalty-Inseln. A. Zoologie vol. 1 pt 1 pp. 1–78, pls 1–3. C. W. Kreidels Verlag: Wiesbaden.

[WS48] Whittell, H. M., & D. L. Serventy. 1948. A systematic list of the birds of Western Australia. Public Library, Museum and Art Gallery of Western Australia, Special Publication 1: 1–126.

[WH02] Worthy, T. H., & R. N. Holdaway. 2002. The Lost World of the Moa: Prehistoric life of New Zealand. Indiana University Press: Bloomington (Indiana).

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