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Western Marsh-harrier Circus aeruginosus

IUCN Red List history

Year Category
2013 Least Concern
2012 Least Concern
2009 Least Concern
2008 Least Concern
2004 Least Concern
2000 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1994 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1988 Lower Risk/Least Concern

Species attributes

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


  Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence breeding/resident (km2) 13,500,000 medium
Extent of Occurrence non-breeding (km2) 17,800,000 medium
Number of locations -
Fragmentation -

Population & trend

  Estimate Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
No. of mature individuals poor Estimated 2009
Population trend Increasing -
Number of subpopulations - - -
Largest subpopulation - - -
Generation length (yrs) 8 - - -
Population justification: In Europe, the breeding population is estimated to number 93,000-140,000 breeding pairs, equating to 279,000-420,000 individuals (BirdLife International 2004). Europe forms 25-49% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 0.5-2 million individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed.
Trend justification: In Europe, trends since 1980 show that populations have undergone a moderate increase (p<0.01), based on provisional data for 21 countries from the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme (EBCC/RSPB/BirdLife/Statistics Netherlands; P. Vorisek in litt. 2008).

Country/Territory distribution

Country/Territory Occurrence status Presence Breeding Non-breeding Passage
Afghanistan Native Extant Yes    
Albania Native Extant     Yes
Algeria Vagrant Extant      
Andorra Vagrant Extant      
Angola Native Extant      
Armenia Native Extant      
Austria Native Extant      
Azerbaijan Native Extant      
Bahrain Native Extant     Yes
Bangladesh Native Extant      
Belarus Native Extant Yes    
Belgium Native Extant     Yes
Benin Native Extant      
Bhutan Vagrant Extant      
Bosnia and Herzegovina Native Extant Yes    
Bulgaria Native Extant     Yes
Burkina Faso Native Extant      
Burundi Native Extant      
Cameroon Native Extant      
Cape Verde Native Extant      
Central African Republic Native Extant      
Chad Native Extant      
China (mainland) Native Extant Yes    
Congo Vagrant Extant      
Congo, The Democratic Republic of the Native Extant      
Côte d'Ivoire Native Extant      
Croatia Native Extant     Yes
Cyprus Native Extant   Yes Yes
Czech Republic Native Extant      
Denmark Native Extant Yes   Yes
Djibouti Native Extant      
Egypt Native Extant      
Eritrea Native Extant      
Estonia Native Extant      
Ethiopia Native Extant      
Faroe Islands (to Denmark) Vagrant Extant      
Finland Native Extant Yes   Yes
France Native Extant     Yes
Gabon Native Extant      
Gambia Native Extant      
Georgia Native Extant Yes   Yes
Germany Native Extant     Yes
Ghana Native Extant      
Gibraltar (to UK) Native Extant     Yes
Greece Native Extant     Yes
Guadeloupe (to France) Vagrant Extant      
Guinea Native Extant      
Guinea-Bissau Native Extant      
Hungary Native Extant      
Iceland Vagrant Extant      
India Native Extant      
Indonesia Vagrant Extant      
Iran, Islamic Republic of Native Extant     Yes
Iraq Native Extant     Yes
Ireland Native Extinct Yes    
Israel Native Extant   Yes Yes
Italy Native Extant     Yes
Jordan Native Extant   Yes Yes
Kazakhstan Native Extant Yes    
Kenya Native Extant      
Kuwait Native Extant   Yes Yes
Kyrgyzstan Native Extant Yes    
Latvia Native Extant      
Lebanon Native Extant   Yes Yes
Liberia Native Extant      
Libya Native Extant      
Liechtenstein Native Extant      
Lithuania Native Extant Yes    
Luxembourg Native Extant   Yes Yes
Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Native Extant      
Malawi Native Extant      
Malaysia Vagrant Extant      
Maldives Native Extant      
Mali Native Extant      
Malta Native Extant     Yes
Mauritania Native Extant      
Mauritius Vagrant Extant      
Moldova Native Extant     Yes
Mongolia Native Extant      
Montenegro Native Extant      
Morocco Native Extant      
Mozambique Native Extant      
Myanmar Native Extant      
Nepal Native Extant      
Netherlands Native Extant      
Niger Native Extant      
Nigeria Native Extant      
Norway Native Extant Yes    
Oman Native Extant   Yes Yes
Pakistan Native Extant      
Palestinian Authority Territories Native Extant   Yes Yes
Poland Native Extant Yes    
Portugal Native Extant      
Qatar Native Extant   Yes  
Romania Native Extant     Yes
Russia (Asian) Native Extant Yes    
Russia (Central Asian) Native Extant Yes    
Russia (European) Native Extant Yes   Yes
Rwanda Native Extant      
Saudi Arabia Native Extant   Yes Yes
Senegal Native Extant      
Serbia Native Extant      
Seychelles Vagrant Extant      
Sierra Leone Native Extant      
Singapore Native Extant      
Slovakia Native Extant      
Slovenia Native Extant     Yes
Somalia Native Extant      
South Africa Native Extant      
South Sudan Native Extant   Yes  
Spain Native Extant     Yes
Sri Lanka Native Extant      
Sudan Native Extant      
Sweden Native Extant Yes    
Switzerland Native Extant      
Syria Native Extant     Yes
Tajikistan Native Extant Yes    
Tanzania Native Extant      
Thailand Vagrant Extant      
Togo Native Extant      
Tunisia Native Extant      
Turkey Native Extant      
Turkmenistan Native Extant Yes    
Uganda Native Extant      
Ukraine Native Extant     Yes
United Arab Emirates Native Extant   Yes Yes
United Kingdom Native Extant      
Uzbekistan Native Extant Yes    
Western Sahara Native Extant      
Yemen Native Extant   Yes Yes
Zambia Native Extant      
Zimbabwe Native Extant      

Important Bird Areas where this species has triggered the IBA criteria

Country/Territory IBA Name IBA link
Austria March/Thaya riverine forest site factsheet
Austria Meadows and lakes in the foreland of the Alps in Salzburg and Upper Austria site factsheet
Austria Neusiedler See site factsheet
Austria Parndorfer Platte and Heideboden site factsheet
Austria Southern Seewinkel and Zitzmannsdorfer Wiesen site factsheet
Austria Storage lakes on the lower Inn site factsheet
Austria Western Weinviertel site factsheet
Belgium IJzervallei-De Blankaart site factsheet
Belgium Krekengebied site factsheet
Belgium Polderkomplex site factsheet
Belgium Schorren en Polder van de Beneden-Schelde site factsheet
Belgium Zwin site factsheet
Bulgaria Derventski Heights site factsheet
Bulgaria Durankulak Lake site factsheet
Bulgaria Mandra-Poda complex site factsheet
Bulgaria Zhrebchevo Reservoir site factsheet
Bulgaria Zlatiata site factsheet
Croatia Lower Sava river site factsheet
Czech Republic Bzenecka Doubrava-Straznicke Pomoravi site factsheet
Czech Republic Doupov hills site factsheet
Czech Republic Hermansky stav-Odra-Poolsi wetlands site factsheet
Czech Republic Poodri site factsheet
Czech Republic Rozdalovické rybníky ponds site factsheet
Czech Republic Trebonsko (Trebon region) site factsheet
Estonia Kahtla-Kübassaare site factsheet
Estonia Mouth of the Emajõgi river and Piirissaar island site factsheet
Estonia Mullutu site factsheet
Estonia Väinameri site factsheet
Estonia Võrtsjärv site factsheet
France Anse de Fouras, baie d'Yves et marais de Rochefort site factsheet
France Anse du Fiers d'Ars en Ré site factsheet
France Baie de Bourgneuf et marais breton site factsheet
France Basse Vallée du Doubs : Dole Sud site factsheet
France Brenne centrale site factsheet
France Brenne Sud site factsheet
France Camargue site factsheet
France Estuaire de la Gironde : marais du Blayais site factsheet
France Estuaire de la Gironde : marais du Nord Médoc site factsheet
France Estuaire et embouchure de la Seine site factsheet
France Etangs d'Argonne site factsheet
France Etangs de la Woëvre: la Chaussée site factsheet
France Etangs de Leucate et Lapalme site factsheet
France Etangs de Sologne: St Viatre, Marcilly-en-Gault et forêt de Bruadan site factsheet
France Etangs de Vendres, Pissevache et Lespignan site factsheet
France Etangs et marais du bassin de la Somme site factsheet
France Etangs Montpellierains site factsheet
France Forêt de la Reine site factsheet
France Garonne : marais de Bordeaux site factsheet
France Golfe du Morbihan et Etier de Penerf site factsheet
France Ile d'Oléron, marais de Brouage-Saint-Agnant site factsheet
France La Dombes site factsheet
France Lac de Grand-Lieu site factsheet
France Lac du Der-Chantecoq et étangs latéraux site factsheet
France Lacs de la Forêt d'Orient site factsheet
France Marais arrières littoraux picards site factsheet
France Marais de Brière site factsheet
France Marais de la Baie d'Audierne site factsheet
France Marais de la Souche site factsheet
France Marais entre Crau et Grand Rhône: Meyranne, Chanoine, Plan de Bourg et Salins du Caban site factsheet
France Marais et estuaire de la Seudre site factsheet
France Marais poitevin et baie de l'Aiguillon site factsheet
France Petite Camargue fluvio-lacustre site factsheet
France Petite Camargue laguno-marine site factsheet
France Plaine du Forez site factsheet
France Vallée de la Conie et Beauce centrale site factsheet
France Vallée de la Meuse site factsheet
France Vallée de la Saône de Corre à Broye site factsheet
France Vallée du Rhin : Marckolsheim à Strasbourg site factsheet
France Vallée du Rhin : Strasbourg à Lauterbourg site factsheet
France Vallées de la Scarpe et de l'Escaut site factsheet
Hungary Bodrogzug–Taktaköz site factsheet
Hungary Heves Plain site factsheet
Hungary Hortobágy and Tisza-to site factsheet
Hungary Lake Fertő site factsheet
Hungary Lake Kis-Balaton site factsheet
Latvia Babite lake site factsheet
Latvia Engure lake site factsheet
Latvia Kemeri national park site factsheet
Latvia Liepaja lake site factsheet
Latvia Pape site factsheet
Lithuania Agricultural land near the Kalvarija settlement site factsheet
Lithuania Metelys, Dusia & Obelija lakes site factsheet
Lithuania Nemunas delta regional Park site factsheet
Lithuania Zuvintas Biosphere Reserve site factsheet
Netherlands Ameland: Duinen-Oerd site factsheet
Netherlands Biesbosch site factsheet
Netherlands Lauwersmeer site factsheet
Netherlands Oostvaardersplassen site factsheet
Netherlands Terschelling: Dunes and Noordvaarder site factsheet
Poland Barycz river valley site factsheet
Poland Biebrza river valley site factsheet
Poland Forest at Drawa River site factsheet
Poland Lower Bug river valley site factsheet
Poland Lower Odra river valley site factsheet
Poland Nida Rivar Valley site factsheet
Poland Tuchola Forest site factsheet
Poland Upper Narew River Valley site factsheet
Poland Warmia Site site factsheet
Poland Wloszczowa Basin site factsheet
Portugal Barrinha de Esmoriz/Lagoa de Paramos site factsheet
Portugal Minho and Coura estuaries site factsheet
Portugal Mondego Estuary site factsheet
Portugal Paul do Taipal site factsheet
Portugal Ria de Aveiro site factsheet
Portugal Sado estuary site factsheet
Portugal Salinas de Alverca e do Forte da Casa site factsheet
Portugal Santo André and Sancha lagoons site factsheet
Portugal Tejo estuary site factsheet
Portugal Vilamoura site factsheet
Romania Balta Albă-Amara-Jirlău site factsheet
Romania Balta Mică a Brăilei site factsheet
Romania Blahniţa site factsheet
Romania Buhuşu reservoir - Bacău - Tătărăşti site factsheet
Romania Câmpia Crişurilor site factsheet
Romania Câmpia Nirului - Valea lerului site factsheet
Romania Cefa fish-ponds and Radvani wood site factsheet
Romania Danube Delta site factsheet
Romania Iazurile de pe Văile Ibănesei - Başeului - Podrigăi site factsheet
Romania Satchinez marsh site factsheet
Slovakia Dolné Považie site factsheet
Slovakia Medzibodrozie site factsheet
Slovakia Poiplie site factsheet
Slovakia Puste Ulany-Zelenec site factsheet
Slovakia Senné site factsheet
Slovenia Črete site factsheet
Slovenia River Drava site factsheet
Spain Albufera de Mallorca and Albufereta de Pollença marshes site factsheet
Spain Alcázar de San Juan-Quero endorreic lagoons site factsheet
Spain Ampurdán marshes site factsheet
Spain Belver de los Montes-Gallegos del Pan site factsheet
Spain Castrejón reservoir site factsheet
Spain Castronuño-Zamora site factsheet
Spain Cinca river rice fields and steppe area site factsheet
Spain Cinco Villas ponds site factsheet
Spain Cogul-Alfés steppes site factsheet
Spain Cortados del Jarama site factsheet
Spain Las Cañas lake site factsheet
Spain Llobregat delta site factsheet
Spain Middle section of river Guadalquivir reservoirs site factsheet
Spain Pedro Muñoz-Manjavacas endorreic lagoons site factsheet
Spain Pitillas and Dos Reinos lagoons site factsheet
Spain Redbeeds and copses of Aranjuez site factsheet
Spain River Ebro ox-bow lakes site factsheet
Spain Rivers Cinca and Alcanadre riverine forest site factsheet
Spain Sariñena lake and La Estación pond site factsheet
Spain Tablas de Daimiel marshes; 'Vicario' and 'Gasset' reservoirs and Malagón lakes site factsheet
Spain Talamanca-Camarma site factsheet
Spain Tarancón-Ocaña-Corral de Almaguer site factsheet
Spain Tierra de Campos steppes site factsheet
Sweden Bay of Kilsviken site factsheet
Sweden Dättern site factsheet
Sweden Färnebofjärden site factsheet
Sweden Kvismaren site factsheet
Sweden Lake Hornborgasjön site factsheet
Sweden Lake Vendelsjön site factsheet
Sweden Western part of lake Mälaren site factsheet
United Kingdom Benacre to Easton Bavents site factsheet
United Kingdom Broadland site factsheet
United Kingdom Deben Estuary site factsheet
United Kingdom Humber Estuary site factsheet
United Kingdom Minsmere - Walberswick site factsheet
United Kingdom North Norfolk Coast site factsheet
United Kingdom The Wash site factsheet
United Kingdom The Wash site factsheet

Habitats & altitude

Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Artificial/Terrestrial Arable Land suitable breeding
Marine Intertidal Salt Marshes (Emergent Grasses) suitable non-breeding
Wetlands (inland) Bogs, Marshes, Swamps, Fens, Peatlands major breeding
Wetlands (inland) Bogs, Marshes, Swamps, Fens, Peatlands major non-breeding
Wetlands (inland) Permanent Freshwater Lakes (over 8ha) suitable breeding
Wetlands (inland) Permanent Freshwater Lakes (over 8ha) suitable non-breeding
Wetlands (inland) Permanent Freshwater Marshes/Pools (under 8ha) major breeding
Wetlands (inland) Permanent Freshwater Marshes/Pools (under 8ha) major non-breeding
Wetlands (inland) Permanent Inland Deltas suitable breeding
Wetlands (inland) Permanent Inland Deltas suitable non-breeding
Wetlands (inland) Seasonal/Intermittent/Irregular Rivers/Streams/Creeks suitable breeding
Wetlands (inland) Seasonal/Intermittent/Irregular Rivers/Streams/Creeks suitable non-breeding
Altitude 0 - 3000 m Occasional altitudinal limits  


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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Circus aeruginosus. Downloaded from on 24/04/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 24/04/2014.

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 Least Concern
Family Accipitridae (Osprey, kites, hawks and eagles)
Species name author (Linnaeus, 1758)
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Increasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 13,500,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Summary information on this species