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Northern Harrier

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Last updated March 2010

Morning Routine

Some say your morning ritual shapes how your day will be. While on a trip to photograph and film the Short-Eared Owl, I've stumbled upon this female Northern Harrier's morning routine of preening, stretching, scratching, and pooping.

Although the routine was over 30 minutes long, I've selected just under 10 minutes of footage for this video, highlighting the most interesting moments of the Northern Harrier morning preparations:

  • Regurgitating what seems to be white uric acid – at minute 1:03 into the video. Hawks, like owls, also cast pellets. However, examining the footage at larger magnification, instead of regular undigested material, this hawk seemed to regurgitate 'hawk chalk' (If you have more information on this behaviour please let me know.)
  • Preening – at minute 3:38 and 8:00 into the video
  • Stretching – at minutes 6:07 and 7:43 into the video
  • Defecating (twice) – at minutes 6:29 and 8:50 into the video
  • The take-off

This hawk was now ready for the day.

The maneuverability of the Northern Harrier hawk and its habit of hovering low above the ground in search of prey is what inspired the British Royal Air Force in naming their (VTOL) vertical take-off and landing jet. We'll explore the Northern Harrier hovering behaviour in a future video.

Watch the Northern Harrier Video

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