email a friend
printable version
Madagascar Marsh-harrier Circus macrosceles
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information

IUCN Red List Criteria

Critically Endangered  
Vulnerable C2a(i);D1 

IUCN Red List history

Year Category
2012 Vulnerable
2008 Vulnerable
2007 Vulnerable
2004 Vulnerable
2000 Vulnerable
1994 Not Recognised
1988 Not Recognised

Species attributes

Migratory status not a migrant Forest dependency Does not normally occur in forest
Land mass type shelf island
Average mass -


  Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence breeding/resident (km2) 594,000 medium
Number of locations 11-100 -
Fragmentation -

Population & trend

  Estimate Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
No. of mature individuals 270-500 medium Estimated 2009
Population trend Decreasing poor -
Number of subpopulations 2-100 - - -
Largest subpopulation 251 - - -
Generation length (yrs) 6 - - -
Population justification: Surveys in 2005-2006 of 71% of the potential harrier habitat in Madagascar recorded a total of 80 individuals. The population on Comoros (three separate subpopulations on Grande Comore, Moheli and Anjouan), where its habitat is nearly totally destroyed, is estimated at no more than 50 mature individuals (R. Thorstrom and L.-A. René de Roland in litt. 2007). The total population is here estimated to be somewhere in the range 270-500 mature individuals, roughly equivalent to 400-750 individuals in total, but this estimate may need to be revised downwards.
Trend justification: The population is suspected to be in moderate decline on the basis of the loss and degradation of breeding habitat, persecution and disturbance.

Country/Territory distribution

Country/Territory Occurrence status Presence Breeding Non-breeding Passage Resident
Comoros Native Extant       Yes
Madagascar Native Extant       Yes
Mayotte (to France) Native Possibly Extinct       Yes

Important Bird Areas where this species has triggered the IBA criteria

Country/Territory IBA Name IBA link
Comoros Karthala Mountains site factsheet
Comoros La Grille Mountains site factsheet
Comoros Mont Mlédjélé (Mwali highlands) site factsheet
Comoros Ndzuani highlands site factsheet
Madagascar Andringitra National Park site factsheet
Madagascar Ankaizina wetlands site factsheet
Madagascar Bemamba Wetland Complex site factsheet
Madagascar Complexe de la Reserve de Chasse du Lac Ihotry - Delta de Mangoky site factsheet
Madagascar Isalo (Isalo National Park IBA) site factsheet
Madagascar Kalambatritra Special Reserve site factsheet
Madagascar Lake Alaotra NPA site factsheet
Madagascar Lake Itasy site factsheet
Madagascar Menarandra Forest / Vohindefo NPA site factsheet
Madagascar Ranomafana National Park and extension site factsheet
Madagascar Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park and Strict Nature Reserve site factsheet
Madagascar Vondrozo Classified Forest NPA site factsheet
Madagascar Zombitse-Vohibasia National Park and extension site factsheet

Habitats & altitude

Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Artificial/Terrestrial Arable Land suitable resident
Grassland Subtropical/Tropical Dry suitable resident
Grassland Subtropical/Tropical High Altitude major resident
Grassland Subtropical/Tropical Seasonally Wet/Flooded suitable resident
Marine Coastal/Supratidal Coastal Freshwater Lakes suitable resident
Wetlands (inland) Bogs, Marshes, Swamps, Fens, Peatlands suitable resident
Wetlands (inland) Permanent Freshwater Lakes (over 8ha) suitable resident
Altitude 0 - 2000 m Occasional altitudinal limits (max) 3000 m

Threats & impact

Threat (level 1) Threat (level 2) Impact and Stresses
Agriculture & aquaculture Annual & perennial non-timber crops / Small-holder farming Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Decline Medium Impact: 6
Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion
Biological resource use Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals / Intentional use (species is the target) Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Decline Medium Impact: 6
Reduced reproductive success, Species mortality
Biological resource use Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals / Persecution/control Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Species mortality
Human intrusions & disturbance Work & other activities Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) No decline Low Impact: 5
Species disturbance
Natural system modifications Fire & fire suppression / Trend Unknown/Unrecorded Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Decline Medium Impact: 6
Ecosystem degradation, Reduced reproductive success


Purpose Primary form used Life stage used Source Scale Level Timing
Food (human) Whole Adults and juveniles Wild Subsistence, National Non-trivial Recent
Pets Whole Adults and juveniles Wild International Non-trivial Recent

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Circus macrosceles. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles)
Species name author Newton, 1863
Population size 270-500 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 594,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Summary information on this species