Western Marsh-harrier Circus aeruginosus


Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _the_WP15.xls#.
Cramp, S. and Simmons, K.E.L. (eds). 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 1: Non-passerines. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International, Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge, UK.

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

Red List history
Year Category Criteria
2021 Least Concern
2016 Least Concern
2015 Least Concern
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) 24,800,000 medium
Extent of Occurrence non-breeding (km2) 86,900,000 medium
Number of locations -
Severely Fragmented -
Population and trend
Value Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
No. of mature individuals 600000-1100000 poor suspected 2021
Population trend stable 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) - - -
Decline (10 years/3 generation past and future) - - -
Number of subpopulations - - -
Percentage in largest subpopulation - - -
Generation length (yrs) 6.53 - - -

Population justification: In Europe, the breeding population is estimated to number 151,000-243,000 breeding females, which equates to 303,000-485,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International in prep.). Europe forms approximately 48% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 631,000-1,010,000 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed. It is placed in the band 600,000 to 1,100,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification: In Europe, the population is estimated to be stable (BirdLife International in prep.). Thiollay (2006) did not find a significant change in numbers of the species overwintering in West Africa during 1969-2004. However, recent surveys of wintering birds in Pakistan and India have shown a decline in this species at certain sites (Bibi et al. 2016; Ganesh & Prashanth 2018), although it is unclear whether this represents a range shift or a true population decline. In the absence of data from the rest of its breeding range, and with no known significant threats, the global population is currently suspected to be stable.

Country/territory distribution
Country/Territory Presence Origin Resident Breeding Non-breeding Passage
Afghanistan extant native yes yes yes
Albania extant native yes yes
Algeria extant native yes yes yes
Andorra extant native yes
Angola extant native yes
Armenia extant native yes yes
Austria extant native yes yes
Azerbaijan extant native yes
Bahrain extant native yes
Bangladesh extant native yes
Belarus extant native yes
Belgium extant native yes yes yes
Benin extant native yes
Bhutan extant vagrant
Bosnia and Herzegovina extant native yes yes yes
Bulgaria extant native yes yes yes
Burkina Faso extant native yes
Burundi extant native yes
Cameroon extant native yes
Cape Verde extant native yes
Central African Republic extant native yes
Chad extant native yes
China (mainland) extant native yes
Congo extant native yes
Congo, The Democratic Republic of the extant native yes
Côte d'Ivoire extant native yes
Croatia extant native yes yes yes
Cyprus extant native yes yes
Czechia extant native yes
Denmark extant native yes yes
Djibouti extant native yes
Egypt extant native yes yes
Eritrea extant native yes
Estonia extant native yes
Ethiopia extant native yes
Faroe Islands (to Denmark) extant vagrant
Finland extant native yes yes
France extant native yes yes yes yes
Gabon extant native yes
Gambia extant native yes
Georgia extant native yes yes
Germany extant native yes yes
Ghana extant native yes
Gibraltar (to UK) extant native yes
Greece extant native yes yes yes
Guadeloupe (to France) extant vagrant
Guinea extant native yes
Guinea-Bissau extant native yes
Hungary extant native yes
Iceland extant vagrant
India extant native yes
Indonesia extant vagrant
Iran, Islamic Republic of extant native yes yes yes
Iraq extant native yes yes
Ireland extinct native yes
Israel extant native yes yes
Italy extant native yes yes yes
Jordan extant native yes yes
Kazakhstan extant native yes
Kenya extant native yes
Kuwait extant native yes yes
Kyrgyzstan extant native yes
Latvia extant native yes
Lebanon extant native yes yes
Liberia extant native yes
Libya extant native yes
Liechtenstein extant native yes
Lithuania extant native yes
Luxembourg extant native yes 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
Mauritius extant vagrant
Moldova extant native yes yes
Mongolia extant native yes yes
Montenegro extant native yes yes
Morocco extant native yes yes yes
Mozambique extant native yes
Myanmar extant native yes
Nepal extant native yes
Netherlands extant native yes yes
Niger extant native yes
Nigeria extant native yes
North Macedonia extant native yes yes yes
Norway extant native yes yes
Oman extant native yes yes
Pakistan extant native yes yes
Palestine extant native yes yes
Poland extant native yes yes
Portugal extant native yes 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 yes
Seychelles extant vagrant
Sierra Leone extant native yes
Singapore extant vagrant
Slovakia extant native yes yes
Slovenia extant native yes yes
Somalia extant native yes yes
South Africa extant native yes
South Sudan extant native yes
Spain extant native yes yes
Sri Lanka extant native yes
Sudan extant native yes
Sweden extant native yes yes
Switzerland extant native yes yes
Syria extant native yes yes
Tajikistan extant native yes
Tanzania extant native yes
Thailand extant vagrant
Togo extant native yes
Tunisia extant native yes yes yes
Turkey extant native yes yes yes yes
Turkmenistan extant native yes
Uganda extant native yes
Ukraine extant native yes yes
United Arab Emirates extant native yes yes
United Kingdom extant native yes yes yes yes
Uzbekistan extant native yes
Western Sahara extant native yes
Yemen extant native yes
Zambia extant native yes
Zimbabwe extant native yes

Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA)
Country/Territory IBA Name
Austria March/Thaya riverine forest
Austria Meadows and lakes in the foreland of the Alps in Salzburg and Upper Austria
Austria Neusiedler See
Austria Parndorfer Platte and Heideboden
Austria Southern Seewinkel and Zitzmannsdorfer Wiesen
Austria Storage lakes on the lower Inn
Austria Western Weinviertel
Belgium IJzervallei-De Blankaart
Belgium Krekengebied
Belgium Polderkomplex
Belgium Schorren en Polder van de Beneden-Schelde
Belgium Zwin
Bulgaria Derventski Heights
Bulgaria Durankulak Lake
Bulgaria Mandra-Poda complex
Bulgaria Zhrebchevo Reservoir
Bulgaria Zlatiata
Croatia Grudnjak and Nasice Carp Fishponds
Croatia Lower Posavina
Croatia Neretva Delta
Croatia Podunavlje and Lower Podravlje
Croatia Poilovlje with Carp Fishponds
Czechia Bzenecka Doubrava-Straznicke Pomoravi
Czechia Doupov hills
Czechia Hermansky stav-Odra-Poolsi wetlands
Czechia Poodri
Czechia Rozdalovické rybníky ponds
Czechia Trebonsko (Trebon region)
Estonia Kahtla-Kübassaare
Estonia Mouth of the Emajõgi river and Piirissaar island
Estonia Mullutu
Estonia Väinameri
Estonia Võrtsjärv
France Anse de Fouras, baie d'Yves et marais de Rochefort
France Anse du Fiers d'Ars en Ré
France Baie de Bourgneuf et marais breton
France Basse Vallée du Doubs : Dole Sud
France Brenne centrale
France Brenne Sud
France Camargue
France Estuaire de la Gironde : marais du Blayais
France Estuaire de la Gironde : marais du Nord Médoc
France Estuaire et embouchure de la Seine
France Etangs d'Argonne
France Etangs de la Woëvre: la Chaussée
France Etangs de Leucate et Lapalme
France Etangs de Sologne: St Viatre, Marcilly-en-Gault et forêt de Bruadan
France Etangs de Vendres, Pissevache et Lespignan
France Etangs et marais du bassin de la Somme
France Etangs Montpellierains
France Forêt de la Reine
France Garonne : marais de Bordeaux
France Golfe du Morbihan et Etier de Penerf
France Ile d'Oléron, marais de Brouage-Saint-Agnant
France La Dombes
France Lac de Grand-Lieu
France Lac du Der-Chantecoq et étangs latéraux
France Lacs de la Forêt d'Orient
France Marais arrières littoraux picards
France Marais de Brière
France Marais de la Baie d'Audierne
France Marais de la Souche
France Marais entre Crau et Grand Rhône: Meyranne, Chanoine, Plan de Bourg et Salins du Caban
France Marais et estuaire de la Seudre
France Marais poitevin et baie de l'Aiguillon
France Petite Camargue fluvio-lacustre
France Petite Camargue laguno-marine
France Plaine du Forez
France Vallée de la Conie et Beauce centrale
France Vallée de la Meuse
France Vallée de la Saône de Corre à Broye
France Vallée du Rhin : Marckolsheim à Strasbourg
France Vallée du Rhin : Strasbourg à Lauterbourg
France Vallées de la Scarpe et de l'Escaut
Germany Aisch-Regnitz-Grund
Germany Altmühl valley between Treuchtlingen and Leutershausen with Altmühlsee
Germany Baar
Germany Bliesgau
Germany Blockland - lower Wümme valley - Westliches Hollerland
Germany Coast and lagoons of Western Pomerania
Germany Danube valley: Regensburg-Vilshofen
Germany Drömling (Sachsen-Anhalt)
Germany Duvenstedter Brook
Germany Eich-Gimbsheimer Altrhein, northern oxbow
Germany Eich-Gimbsheimer Altrhein, southern oxbow
Germany Elbe lowlands between Schnackenburg and Lauenburg
Germany Elbe marshes between Stade and Otterndorf
Germany Emsaue (Rietberger Emsniederung - Steinhorster Becken)
Germany Eschefeld ponds
Germany Farmland plateau between Ilbesheim and Flomborn
Germany Federseeried
Germany Gohrischheide
Germany Hellwegbörde
Germany Hessian Rhine alluvion
Germany Island of Usedom
Germany Kinzig- und Schutterniederung between Niederschopfheim and Kehl
Germany Lower Elbe valley
Germany Lower Gersprenz lowlands incl. Reinheim pond
Germany Lower Havel - Lake Schollene - Lake Gülpe
Germany Lower Inn: Haiming - Neuhaus including the Neuhaus, Egglfing, Ering, and Simbach reservoirs
Germany Lower reaches of River Weser, unembanked area
Germany Lower Rhine
Germany Lower Saxony Wadden Sea National Park
Germany Lowlands of the Rivers Eider, Treene and Sorge
Germany Main valley and Steiger foothills near Schweinfurt and Volkach
Germany Middle Elbe valley with Steckby-Lödderitz forest
Germany Neckar oxbows in the Hessian Ried
Germany Neupotzer Altrhein
Germany Niedervieland, Ochtumniederung
Germany Oberlausitz heathland and fishponds biosphere reserve
Germany Ochsenfurter Gau
Germany Oldenburger Graben and Wesseker See
Germany Ostfriesische Meere
Germany Ponds and Elbe valley near Torgau
Germany Pressel wooded heath and mire
Germany Rhön Biosphere Reserve
Germany Rieselfelder Münster
Germany Rodachaue / Itzgrund / Oberes Maintal incl. Nassanger near Trieb and surrounding gravel pits
Germany Saale-Elster valley
Germany Salziger See and Salza valley
Germany Schorfheide-Chorin
Germany Selent-Plön fishponds
Germany Selz valley between Hahnheim and Ingelheim
Germany Sewage ponds Offenau
Germany Silzenwiesen and Bruch near Stettfeld
Germany Speyerer Wald, Nonnenwald and Bachauen between Geinsheim and Hanhofen
Germany Stechlin
Germany Uckermark lake region
Germany Untersee of Lake Constance
Germany Wagbach lowlands
Germany Wahner Heide
Germany Werderland
Germany Werra lowlands near Wanfried and Eschwege
Germany Werra meadows near Bad Salzungen
Germany Weserstaustufe Schlüsselburg
Germany Wetterau
Germany Wörther Altrhein and Wörther Rheinhafen
Hungary Bodrogzug–Taktaköz
Hungary Heves Plain
Hungary Hortobágy and Tisza-to
Hungary Lake Fertő
Hungary Lake Kis-Balaton
Italy Altopiano di Campeda
Italy Argentario, Laguna di Orbetello Lagoon e Lago di Burano
Italy Bassa Modenese
Italy Cagliari wetlands
Italy Caorle lagoon
Italy Diaccia Botrona
Italy Gargano Promontory and Capitanata Wetlands
Italy Grado and Marano lagoon
Italy Iseo peatlands
Italy Lake Massaciuccoli
Italy Lake Trasimeno
Italy Orti-Bottagone
Italy Palmas Gulf wetlands
Italy Po Delta
Italy Punte Alberete and Valle della Canna, Pineta San Vitale and Pialassa della Baiona
Italy River Mincio and Bosco Fontana
Italy Simeto mouth and middle course and Biviere di Lentini
Italy Sinis and Oristano wetlands
Italy Valle Bertuzzi and Goro lagoon
Italy Valli Bolognesi
Italy Venice lagoon
Italy Vercelli rice-fields
Latvia Babite lake
Latvia Engure lake
Latvia Kemeri national park
Latvia Liepaja lake
Latvia Pape
Lithuania Agricultural land near the Kalvarija settlement
Lithuania Metelys, Dusia & Obelija lakes
Lithuania Nemunas delta regional Park
Lithuania Zuvintas Biosphere Reserve
Montenegro Bojana Delta
Montenegro Skadar Lake
Montenegro Ulcinj saltpans
Netherlands Duinen Ameland
Netherlands Duinen Terschelling
Netherlands Oostvaardersplassen
Netherlands Wadden Sea
Netherlands Westerschelde & Saeftinghe
Poland Barycz river valley
Poland Biebrza river valley
Poland Forest at Drawa River
Poland Lower Bug river valley
Poland Lower Odra river valley
Poland Nida Rivar Valley
Poland Tuchola Forest
Poland Upper Narew River Valley
Poland Warmia Site
Poland Wloszczowa Basin
Portugal Barrinha de Esmoriz/Lagoa de Paramos
Portugal Minho and Coura estuaries
Portugal Mondego Estuary
Portugal Paul do Taipal
Portugal Ria de Aveiro
Portugal Sado estuary
Portugal Salinas de Alverca e do Forte da Casa
Portugal Santo André and Sancha lagoons
Portugal Tejo estuary
Portugal Vilamoura
Romania Balta Albă - Amara - Jirlău
Romania Balta Mică a Brăilei
Romania Blahniţa
Romania Buhuşu reservoir - Bacău - Tătărăşti
Romania Câmpia Crişurilor
Romania Câmpia Nirului - Valea lerului
Romania Cefa fish-ponds and Radvani wood
Romania Danube Delta
Romania Iazurile de pe Văile Ibănesei - Başeului - Podrigăi
Romania Satchinez marsh
Serbia Carska bara
Serbia Jegricka
Serbia Pašnjaci Velike Droplje
Serbia Subotica lakes and sandy terrain
Slovakia Dolné Považie
Slovakia Medzibodrožie
Slovakia Poiplie
Slovakia Pusté Úľany - Zeleneč
Slovakia Senné
Slovenia Črete
Slovenia River Drava
Spain Albufera de Mallorca and Albufereta de Pollença marshes
Spain Alcázar de San Juan-Quero endorreic lagoons
Spain Ampurdán marshes
Spain Belver de los Montes-Gallegos del Pan
Spain Castrejón reservoir
Spain Castronuño-Zamora
Spain Cinca river rice fields and steppe area
Spain Cinco Villas ponds
Spain Cogul-Alfés steppes
Spain Cortados del Jarama
Spain Guadalquivir marshes
Spain Las Cañas lake
Spain Llobregat delta
Spain Middle section of river Guadalquivir reservoirs
Spain Pedro Muñoz-Manjavacas endorreic lagoons
Spain Pitillas and Dos Reinos lagoons
Spain Redbeeds and copses of Aranjuez
Spain River Ebro ox-bow lakes
Spain Rivers Cinca and Alcanadre riverine forest
Spain Sariñena lake and La Estación pond
Spain Tablas de Daimiel marshes; 'Vicario' and 'Gasset' reservoirs and Malagón lakes
Spain Talamanca-Camarma
Spain Tarancón-Ocaña-Corral de Almaguer
Spain Tierra de Campos steppes
Spain Torrejón de Velasco - Secanos de Valdemoro
Spain Villafáfila
Sweden Bay of Kil
Sweden Bay of Rynninge
Sweden Färnebofjärden
Sweden Lake Dättern
Sweden Lake Hornborga
Sweden Lake Kvismaren
Sweden Lake Solgen
Sweden Lake Tåkern
Sweden Lake Tämnaren
Sweden Lake Vendel
Sweden River Helge
Sweden Western part of Lake Mälaren
United Kingdom Benacre to Easton Bavents
United Kingdom Broadland
United Kingdom Deben Estuary
United Kingdom Humber Estuary
United Kingdom Minsmere - Walberswick
United Kingdom North Norfolk Coast
United Kingdom The Wash

Habitats & altitude
Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Artificial/Aquatic & Marine Artificial/Aquatic - Water Storage Areas (over 8ha) suitable resident
Artificial/Terrestrial Arable Land suitable resident
Grassland Temperate suitable resident
Marine Intertidal Salt Marshes (Emergent Grasses) suitable non-breeding
Wetlands (inland) Bogs, Marshes, Swamps, Fens, Peatlands major resident
Wetlands (inland) Permanent Freshwater Lakes (over 8ha) suitable resident
Wetlands (inland) Permanent Freshwater Marshes/Pools (under 8ha) major resident
Wetlands (inland) Permanent Inland Deltas suitable resident
Wetlands (inland) Permanent Rivers/Streams/Creeks (includes waterfalls) suitable resident
Wetlands (inland) Seasonal/Intermittent/Irregular Rivers/Streams/Creeks suitable resident
Altitude 0 - 3000 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 Minority (<50%) Slow, Significant Declines Low Impact: 5
Ecosystem degradation
Agriculture & aquaculture Livestock farming & ranching - Small-holder grazing, ranching or farming Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Slow, Significant Declines Low Impact: 5
Ecosystem degradation
Biological resource use Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals - Persecution/control Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Slow, Significant Declines Low Impact: 5
Species mortality
Biological resource use Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals - Unintentional effects (species is not the target) Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Negligible 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%) Slow, Significant Declines Low Impact: 5
Ecosystem degradation
Climate change & severe weather Droughts Timing Scope Severity Impact
Future Majority (50-90%) Unknown Unknown
Ecosystem degradation
Energy production & mining Renewable energy Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Slow, Significant Declines Low Impact: 5
Species mortality
Natural system modifications Dams & water management/use - Abstraction of surface water (unknown use) Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 5
Ecosystem conversion
Pollution Agricultural & forestry effluents - Herbicides and pesticides Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Slow, Significant Declines Low Impact: 5
Species mortality
Pollution Domestic & urban waste water - Sewage Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Unknown Unknown
Species mortality
Pollution Industrial & military effluents - Type Unknown/Unrecorded Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Slow, Significant Declines Low Impact: 5
Species mortality
Residential & commercial development Housing & urban areas Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion
Transportation & service corridors Utility & service lines Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Species mortality

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Circus aeruginosus. Downloaded from on 06/06/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 06/06/2023.