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 (Austin 1961). 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.

<==Circus Lacépède 1799 (see below for synonymy) CC10
    |--C. buffoni BKB15
    `--+--+--*C. aeruginosus (Linnaeus 1758) CC10, BKB15, CC10 [=Falco aeruginosus CC10]
       |  `--C. ranivorus JT12
       `--+--C. macrourus BKB15
          `--+--C. cinereus BKB15
             `--C. cyaneus JT12

Circus incertae sedis:
  C. approximans Peale 1848 (see below for synonymy) CC10
    |--C. a. approximans S13
    `--C. ‘gouldi’ wolfi Gurney 1865 S13
  C. assimilis Jardine & Selby 1828 [incl. C. jardinii, *Spilocircus jardinii] CC10
    |--C. a. assimilis WS48
    `--C. a. rogersi Mathews 1912 [incl. C. approximans inexpectatus Mathews 1912] WS48
  C. dossenus WH02
  C. hudsonius S18
  C. macrosceles JT12
  C. macropterus [=*Spizacircus macropterus] CC10
  C. maillardi JT12
  C. maurus JT12
  C. melanoleucus (Forst. 1781) [=Falco melanoleucus] M01
  C. pygargus (Linnaeus 1758) JT12, L58 (see below for synonymy)
  C. spilonotus Kaup 1847 JT12, I92 [=C. aeruginosus spilonotus I92]
  C. teauteensis Forbes 1892 CC10 (see below for synonymy)

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) JT12, L58 [=Falco pygargus CC10, *Pygargus pygargus CC10, *Strigiceps pygargus CC10; incl. Falco cineraceus CC10, *Glaucopteryx cineraceus CC10, *Pterocircus cineraceus CC10]

Circus teauteensis Forbes 1892 CC10 [incl. C. eylesi Scarlett 1953 CC10, Accipiter eylesi N10, C. hamiltoni Forbes 1892 CC10]

*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.

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

[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.

[S18] Stone, W. 1918. Birds of the Panama Canal Zone, with special reference to a collection made by Mr. Lindsey L. Jewel. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 70: 239–280.

[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).

Last updated: 5 August 2019.

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