Hen Harrier is Actually Two Different Species

New investigate confirms that a hen harrier (Circus cyaneus), a medium-sized bird of chase found in tools of North America and Eurasia, is dual opposite class of bird that are usually distantly related.

The northern harrier (Circus hudsonius). Image credit: Simon Richards.

The northern harrier (Circus hudsonius). Image credit: Simon Richards.

The study, led by Dr. Graham Etherington of a University of California’s Museum of Vertebrate Zoology and a Earlham Institute, explores a phylogenetic attribute between dual now famous forms, a Palearctic form C. c. cyaneus (hen harrier), and a Nearctic form C. c. hudsonius (northern harrier), to heed their stock and evolution.

“Molecular phylogenetics was practical to a hen harriers and a northern harriers to see if genetics could strew some light on either a supposed morphological nuances between a class indeed paint a genuine distinction,” Dr. Etherington said.

Already supposed as opposite class by a British Ornithologists’ Union, a American Ornithologists’ Union and other avian taxonomic committees are nonetheless to systematise a bird of chase as apart species.

“From a charge point, a work shows a Palearctic form is not a same as a Nearctic form and should accept suitable approval and protection,” Dr. Etherington said.

“Before a appearance of sequencing technology, class were categorized by common and anomalous morphological features,” he noted.

“However, new record allows us to quantify a volume of genetic change between populations and brand anomalous lineages.”

In a research, Dr. Etherington and his colleague, Dr. Jason Mobley from a Museum of Vertebrate Zoology during a University of California, Berkeley, collected hankie samples from museums around a world.

Using both DNA sequencing and morphology, along with differences in plumage, tact biology, vocalization, habitat, distribution, dispersion and migration, it was probable to uncover a differences between a dual forms.

“These genetic indicators heed a hen harrier and a tighten relative, a northern harrier, genetically as good as morphologically, suggesting geographical siege is adequate to form dual graphic lineages,” Dr. Etherington said.

This investigate is published in a biography Avian Research.


Graham J. Etherington Jason A. Mobley. 2016. Molecular phylogeny, morphology and life-history comparisons within Circus cyaneus exhibit a participation of dual graphic evolutionary lineages. Avian Research 7 (17); doi: 10.1186/s40657-016-0052-3