Definition of hen harrier in English:

hen harrier


  • A widespread harrier of open country, the male of which is mainly pale grey and the female brown.

    Circus cyaneus, family Accipitridae

    North American term northern harrier
    • ‘The tracking also showed that a peregrine falcon took a juvenile hen harrier fledged from one of the eight successful nests.’
    • ‘A big raptor flew low and light over the scene under the open sky, a hen harrier, a heavy-duty killer.’
    • ‘The hen harrier is a bird of prey, belonging to the same family as hawks, vultures, and eagles.’
    • ‘As we enjoyed watching hundreds of them flying in to a stubble field to rest and doze in the midday sun, my wife spotted a ring-tail hen harrier quartering a beet field yet to be harvested.’
    • ‘The hen harrier has suffered in recent years because of more intensive farming methods on its favoured breeding grounds of remote moorland, plus illegal persecution by land owners.’


Mid 16th century: so named because it was believed to prey on poultry.