Success pallid harrier in the Netherlands

Prey transfer between male and female pallid harrier. The breeding pair that succesfully fledged six young in Dutch farmland. Photograph: Martijn Bot

Again succesful breeding pair pallid harriers in the Netherlands

In 2017, the first ever breeding pair of pallid harriers in the Netherlands is established. They successfully fledge four young in a protected nest located in a wheat field in Groningen. In 2018, another breeding attempt from the same female fails, this time uniquely paired with a Montagu’s harrier male. And now, in 2019, the narrative of the Dutch pallid harriers succesfully continues.

Halway through April a territorial pair of pallid harriers is discovered by a volunteer of the agricultural nature and landschape cooperative Midden Groningen. We are informed as a result of our experience with and responsiblity for the protection of harrier nests. From that moment on the pair is closely monitored. At the end of April the female, very likely the same female as in the previous two years, starts laying eggs. Coincidental, she does this in a field of the same farmer as her earlier attempts.

Nest with six young!
After roughly 25 days of breeding the countdown starts towards the first signs of hatchlings. This is when the female starts bringing prey to the nest as well. Finally, on May 27 she begins.

After our experience in 2017 it was this time much less difficult to protect the nest with a cage against predation. At the start of June this cage is placed with the help of several volunteers. Inside the nest we count six young! Just like 2017 the nestprotection is accepted by the female.

Only when prey abundance is extremely high, clutches of this size fledge. The male forages not only above farmlands and meadows, but even uses the backyards of local residents as its hunting territory. And with success, because on June 19 when the young are ringed all six are still present. At the beginning of July, right before the harvest of their nesting site starts, all young are successfully fledged.

This new success story of breeding pallid harriers in the Netherlands is wholly dependent on the smooth cooperation between farmer, volunteers of the agricultural cooperative and with help of our own experienced volunteers. Many thanks!

The six young pallid harriers ringed, measured and weighed. Five males and one female, 19 juni 2019. Photograph: Martijn Bot