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Kentucky Color: Northern Harrier

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By Billy Joe Fudge, Retired District Forester
Kentucky Division of Forestry

Several years ago I posted a photo of a Northern Harrier hunting off North KY 55 in the Green River Commerce Park. This one was hunting a weed field at the intersection of North Johnson Schoolhouse Road and KY 704.

Northern Harriers hunt by sound rather than sight. They float, dart and maneuver just feet and sometimes inches above the grass or in this case weeds.

They change direction and altitude continually in an effort to silently peer through ground cover with hearing keen enough to rival the most modern radar or heat detecting missile technology.

This maneuver, I've observed, is usually performed by Harriers preceding a 180 degree change in direction. They rise up, fold their long silent wings and dive back down to hunting height effectively doubling back to check for telltale sounds in the grass. - Billy Joe Fudge

This story was posted on 2013-03-28 04:57:39
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Kentucky Color: Northern Harrier

2013-03-28 - Johnson Schoolhouse Road, Adair Co., KY - Photo by Billy Joe Fudge.
A Northern Harrier at work in a field off KY 704/Fairplay Road, over woods and fields on Johnson Schoolhouse Road. Their aerial performances are one of the most fascinating in the natural world, described in the accompanying Kentucky Color by Billy Joe Fudge.

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