Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus

IUCN Red list criteria met and history
Red List criteria met
Critically Endangered Endangered Vulnerable
- - -

Red List history
Year Category Criteria
2021 Near Threatened A2cde+3cde+4cde
2018 Near Threatened A2cde+3cde+4cde
2017 Near Threatened A2cde+3cde+4cde
2016 Near Threatened A2cde+3cde+4cde
2013 Near Threatened A2cde+3cde+4cde
2012 Near Threatened A2cde+3cde+4cde
2008 Near Threatened A2c,d,e; A3c,d,e; A4c,d,e
2006 Near Threatened
2004 Near Threatened
2000 Lower Risk/Near Threatened
1994 Lower Risk/Near Threatened
1988 Lower Risk/Least Concern
Species attributes

Migratory status full migrant Forest dependency low
Land mass type land-mass type - continent
Average mass -

Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence breeding/resident (km2) 10,900,000 medium
Extent of Occurrence non-breeding (km2) 57,600,000 medium
Number of locations -
Severely Fragmented -
Population and trend
Value Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
No. of mature individuals 18000-30000 medium estimated 2003
Population trend decreasing poor suspected -
Decline (3 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (5 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (10 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (10 years/3 generation future) 10-20 - - -
Decline (10 years/3 generation past and future) 10-20 - - -
Number of subpopulations - - -
Percentage in largest subpopulation - - -
Generation length (yrs) 5.68 - - -

Population justification: The global population is estimated at 9,000-15,000 pairs (Galushin et al. 2003), equating to 18,000-30,000 mature individuals. The European population is estimated at 1,000-2,200 breeding pairs, which roughly equates to 2,000-4,400 mature individuals (BirdLife International in prep.).

Trend justification: Assessment of population trends in this species is complicated by the fact that on breeding territories numbers fluctuate in response to environmental conditions, probably to changing numbers of small mammals. Thus, high or low territory numbers in any given year or two-year period may be indicative of change in demographics, or they may be indicative of change in local environment, while the birds may breed elsewhere without their population size changing. A 13-year data study in north-central Kazakhstan revealed that its numbers and reproductive success vary cyclically, peaking every c. 6 years, in response to interannual variation in local vole densities; these cycles were asynchronous between regions, suggesting a regional redistribution of birds between years (Terraube et al. 2012a). Large numbers of Pallid Harriers in Finland have also been associated with peaks in vole populations (Henry 2018).

A large decline occurred in Europe during 1970-1990 (Tucker and Heath 1994), when up to 30% of birds were lost (particularly from the key population in European Russia), and the species continued to decline in 1990-2000, when overall trends exceeded 30% over three generations (17 years) (BirdLife International 2004). More recently, the European population trend was assessed as stable in the 2021 European Red List of Birds (BirdLife International in prep.), partly due to an increasing breeding population in Northern Europe (Keller et al. 2020). Europe comprises about 40% of the species’ global breeding range, but holds a much smaller proportion of the global population, as the larger proportion is concentrated in Central Asia, especially in southern Russia and Kazakhstan (Galushin et al. 2003). When last assessed, surveys in the Kustanay Oblast region (northern Kazakhstan) from 1997 to 2004 indicated a fluctuating but ostensibly stable population of 1,500–2,000 pairs, nesting at a density of 9.4–25 pairs per 100 km(Bragin 1999, E. Bragin in litt. 2005). Anecdotal evidence from southern Kazakhstan (Almaty to Chockpack Bird Station) suggested that it was locally abundant (A. Corso in litt. 2005). A survey of harrier roost sites in India from 1985-2015 found a declining trend in the number of overwintering Pallid Harriers, although the trend was not statistically significant (Ganesh & Prashanth 2018). However, roost counts in southern India during 2015-2019 found a significant decline in male Pallid Harriers (Saravanan et al. 2021). 

The partly nomadic nature of the species and its fluctuating numbers make an assessment of the overall trend problematic. With the population estimated to be stable in Europe, but a potentially significant decline reported from overwintering sites in India, a moderately rapid decline of 10-20% continues to be suspected on a precautionary basis until better data are available from its core breeding range in Central Asia.

Country/territory distribution
Country/Territory Presence Origin Resident Breeding Non-breeding Passage
Afghanistan extant native yes yes
Albania extant native yes
Algeria extant native yes yes
Angola extant native yes
Armenia extant native yes
Austria extant native yes
Azerbaijan extant native yes yes
Bahrain extant native yes
Bangladesh extant native yes yes
Belarus extant native yes yes
Belgium extant native yes
Benin extant native yes
Bhutan extant vagrant yes
Botswana extant native yes
Bulgaria extant native yes yes
Burkina Faso extant native yes
Burundi extant native yes
Cameroon extant native yes
Central African Republic extant native yes
Chad extant native yes
China (mainland) extant native yes yes
Congo, The Democratic Republic of the extant native yes
Côte d'Ivoire extant native yes
Croatia extant native yes
Cyprus extant native yes
Czechia extant native yes
Denmark extant native yes
Djibouti extant native yes yes
Egypt extant native yes yes
Eritrea extant native yes yes
Estonia extant native yes
Eswatini extant vagrant yes
Ethiopia extant native yes yes
Finland extant native yes yes
France extant native yes
Gambia extant native yes
Georgia extant native yes
Germany extant native yes
Ghana extant native yes
Gibraltar (to UK) extant native yes
Greece extant native yes
Guinea extant native yes
Guinea-Bissau extant native yes
Hungary extant native yes
Iceland extant vagrant
India extant native yes
Iran, Islamic Republic of extant native yes yes
Iraq extant native yes yes
Israel extant native yes yes
Italy extant native yes
Japan extant vagrant
Jordan extant native yes yes
Kazakhstan extant native yes yes
Kenya extant native yes yes
Kuwait extant native yes
Kyrgyzstan extant native yes
Latvia extant native yes
Lebanon extant native yes
Lesotho extant vagrant yes
Liberia extant native yes
Libya extant native yes
Liechtenstein extant vagrant yes
Luxembourg extant vagrant yes
Malawi extant native yes
Malaysia extant vagrant
Maldives extant native yes
Mali extant native yes
Malta extant native yes
Mauritania extant native yes yes
Moldova extant native yes yes
Mongolia extant native yes yes
Montenegro extant native yes
Mozambique extant native yes
Myanmar extant native yes yes
Namibia extant native yes
Nepal extant native yes
Netherlands extant native yes
Niger extant native yes yes
Nigeria extant native yes
North Macedonia extant native yes
Norway extant native yes
Oman extant native yes yes
Pakistan extant native yes yes
Palestine extant native yes
Qatar extant native yes
Romania extant native yes yes
Russia extant native yes yes
Russia (Asian) extant native yes
Russia (Central Asian) extant native yes
Russia (European) extant native yes yes
Rwanda extant native yes
Saudi Arabia extant native yes yes
Senegal extant native yes
Serbia extant native yes
Sierra Leone extant native yes
Slovakia extant native yes
Slovenia extant native yes
Somalia extant native yes yes
South Africa extant native yes
South Sudan extant native yes
Spain extant native yes
Sri Lanka extant native yes
Sudan extant native yes yes
Sweden extant native yes
Switzerland extant native yes
Syria extant native yes yes
Tajikistan extant native yes
Tanzania extant native yes yes
Togo extant native yes
Tunisia extant native yes yes
Turkey extant native yes yes
Turkmenistan extant native yes
Uganda extant native yes yes
Ukraine extant native yes yes
United Arab Emirates extant native yes yes
United Kingdom extant vagrant
Uzbekistan possibly extinct native yes
Vietnam extinct vagrant
Yemen extant native yes yes
Zambia extant native yes
Zimbabwe extant native yes

Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA)
Country/Territory IBA Name
Algeria Parc National de l'Ahaggar
Armenia Tashir
Azerbaijan Korchai area
Botswana South-east Botswana
Bulgaria Balchik
Bulgaria Batova
Cameroon Kalamaloué National Park
Cameroon Lake Maga
Cameroon Logone flood-plain
Cameroon Mont Manengouba
Cameroon Waza National Park
Cyprus Akrotiri Peninsula - Episkopi Cliffs
Cyprus Cape Greco
Cyprus Karpasia Peninsula - Kleides Islands
Cyprus Xeros Valley and Hanoutaris Cliffs
Djibouti Kadda Guéïni - Doumêra
Egypt Ain Sukhna
Egypt El Qa plain
Egypt Gebel El Zeit
Egypt Gebel Maghara
Egypt Lake Bardawil
Egypt Lake Manzala
Egypt Ras Mohammed National Park
Egypt Suez
Egypt Zaranik Protected Area
Ethiopia Abijatta - Shalla Lakes National Park
Ethiopia Awash National Park
Ethiopia Bahir Dar - Lake Tana
Ethiopia Bale Mountains National Park
Ethiopia Boyo wetland
Ethiopia Chelekleka lake and swamp
Ethiopia Dessa'a forest
Ethiopia Dilu Meda (Tefki)
Ethiopia Fogera plains
Ethiopia Koka dam and Lake Gelila
Ethiopia Lake Langano
Ethiopia Nechisar National Park and surroundings
Ethiopia Senkele Sanctuary
Ethiopia Simien Mountains National Park
Ethiopia Sululta plain
Ethiopia Yangudi-Rassa National Park
Georgia Batumi
India Velavadar National Park
Kazakhstan Aktubek
Kazakhstan Alekseevskie steppe pine forests
Kazakhstan Amangeldy
Kazakhstan Ayak-Bestau Hills
Kazakhstan Chingiztau Mountains
Kazakhstan Eastern Kazakhstan uplands
Kazakhstan Ereymentau Mountains
Kazakhstan Ertis Ormany (Shaldai Forest)
Kazakhstan Iskrinskie Pine Forests
Kazakhstan Kamyshovoe-Zhamankol Lakes
Kazakhstan Korgalzhyn State Nature Reserve
Kazakhstan Korgankol Lake
Kazakhstan Koybagar-Tyuntyugur Lake System
Kazakhstan Kulykol-Taldykol Lake System
Kazakhstan Kushmurun Lake
Kazakhstan Lower reaches of the Sarysu River
Kazakhstan Manyrak Mountains
Kazakhstan Middle reaches of the Sarysu River
Kazakhstan Mugodzhary
Kazakhstan Naurzum State Nature Reserve
Kazakhstan Ortau upland massif
Kazakhstan Sagyz
Kazakhstan Sankebay Lakes
Kazakhstan Sarykopa Lake System
Kazakhstan Semey Ormany (Semipalatinsk Forest)
Kazakhstan Shaglyteniz Lake and marshes
Kazakhstan Shoshkaly Lake System
Kazakhstan Teniz-Karakamys Lakes
Kazakhstan Tounsor Hollow Lakes
Kazakhstan Ulytau Mountains
Kazakhstan Vicinity of Korgalzhyn village
Kazakhstan Western and northern foothills of the Kalba Range
Kazakhstan Western edge of the Karakoyin and Zhetikonyr Sands
Kazakhstan Zhagabulak Forest
Kazakhstan Zhagalbayly and Tuyemoynak Hills
Kazakhstan Zharsor-Urkash Salt Lakes
Kenya Kinangop grasslands
Kenya Nairobi National Park
Kenya Ol Ari Nyiro
Kyrgyzstan Tulek Valley
Malawi Lake Chilwa and flood-plain
Namibia Etosha National Park
Namibia Tsumkwe pan system
Nepal Annapurna Conservation Area
Nepal Chitwan National Park
Nepal Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve
Nepal Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve and Koshi Barrage
Nepal Langtang National Park
Nepal Mai Valley forests
Nepal Sukla Phanta Wildlife Reserve
Niger 'W' National Park
Niger Diffa-Kinzindi grassland and wetlands
Romania Aliman - Adamclisi
Romania Beştepe - Mahmudia
Romania Dealurile Dorobanţu
Romania Denis Tepe
Romania Dobrogei gorge
Romania Dumbrăveni - Plopeni
Romania Hagieni forest
Romania Kogălniceanu - Gura Ialomiţei
Romania Stepa Casimcea
Romania Stepa Saraiu - Horea
Russia (Central Asian) Arkaim
Russia (Central Asian) Birsuat
Russia (Central Asian) Blagoveschenskaya (Kulunda lake and vicinity)
Russia (Central Asian) Bol'shiye and Maliye Donki lakes
Russia (Central Asian) Bol'shoye Beloye lake
Russia (Central Asian) Bottomland of Tobol river near villages Lebedevka and Bygrovoe
Russia (Central Asian) Ebeity lake
Russia (Central Asian) Flood-plain of Tobol river near Lebedevka and Bugrovoye villages
Russia (Central Asian) Gor'koye lake near Karas'ye village
Russia (Central Asian) Interfluve of the rivers Small and Big Karatanka
Russia (Central Asian) Kurumbel'skaya steppe
Russia (Central Asian) Lake Tavolzhan
Russia (Central Asian) Plateau Ukok
Russia (Central Asian) Siverga lake
Russia (Central Asian) Stekleney Lake
Russia (Central Asian) Uzkaya Steppe
Russia (European) Algaiski
Russia (European) Buinakskaya depression
Russia (European) Bulukhta area
Russia (European) Flood-plain of Alatyr' river in vicinity of Ardatov
Russia (European) Floodplain of Pjana river near village Sarga
Russia (European) Islands in the western part of Lake Manych-Gudilo
Russia (European) Kulaksay lowland
Russia (European) Kupy area
Russia (European) Kurnikov liman
Russia (European) Shalkaro-Zhetykol'ski lake system
Russia (European) Siniye mountains
Russia (European) Stepnovski saltmarshes
Russia (European) Teberdinski Nature Reserve
Russia (European) Vicinity of Borisoglebovka (Saratovski [Semenovski] Reserve)
Russia (European) Watershed of Bityug and Tsna rivers
Russia (European) Zhestyanka
Rwanda Akagera National Park
South Africa Grasslands
Sudan En Nahud
Syria Euphrates valley
Tanzania Masai Steppe
Tanzania Mount Kilimanjaro
Tanzania Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Turkey Tuz Lake
Uganda Murchison Falls National Park
Uganda Queen Elizabeth National Park and Lake George
Ukraine Askania-Nova Biosphere Reserve
Ukraine Korotchenkivs'ki meadows
Ukraine Samars'kyj forest
Uzbekistan Angren Plateau
Uzbekistan South-west Gizzar Foothills
Zambia Bangweulu Swamps
Zambia Barotse Floodplains
Zambia Kafue Flats
Zambia Kafue National Park
Zambia Kasanka National Park
Zambia Lukanga Swamp
Zambia Nyika National Park (Zambia)
Zimbabwe Nyanga mountains

Habitats & altitude
Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Artificial/Terrestrial Arable Land suitable resident
Forest Boreal suitable breeding
Forest Subtropical/Tropical Dry suitable non-breeding
Grassland Subtropical/Tropical Dry suitable resident
Grassland Temperate major breeding
Savanna Dry suitable non-breeding
Shrubland Subtropical/Tropical Dry suitable non-breeding
Wetlands (inland) Bogs, Marshes, Swamps, Fens, Peatlands suitable breeding
Wetlands (inland) Permanent Rivers/Streams/Creeks (includes waterfalls) suitable breeding
Altitude 0 - 4000 m Occasional altitudinal limits  

Threats & impact
Threat (level 1) Threat (level 2) Impact and Stresses
Agriculture & aquaculture Annual & perennial non-timber crops - Agro-industry farming Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Declines Medium Impact: 6
Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion
Agriculture & aquaculture Annual & perennial non-timber crops - Small-holder farming Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Declines Medium Impact: 6
Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion
Agriculture & aquaculture Livestock farming & ranching - Small-holder grazing, ranching or farming Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Declines Medium Impact: 6
Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion
Biological resource use Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals - Motivation Unknown/Unrecorded Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Slow, Significant Declines Low Impact: 5
Species mortality
Biological resource use Logging & wood harvesting - Unintentional effects: (subsistence/small scale) [harvest] Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Ecosystem degradation
Climate change & severe weather Droughts Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Unknown Unknown
Indirect ecosystem effects
Natural system modifications Fire & fire suppression - Increase in fire frequency/intensity Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Declines Medium Impact: 6
Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion
Pollution Agricultural & forestry effluents - Herbicides and pesticides Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Slow, Significant Declines Low Impact: 5
Ecosystem degradation

Purpose Primary form used Life stage used Source Scale Level Timing
Pets/display animals, horticulture - - international non-trivial recent
Sport hunting/specimen collecting - - non-trivial recent

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Circus macrourus. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/pallid-harrier-circus-macrourus on 07/06/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org on 07/06/2023.