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Aves, 50/1 | 2013 | 23-28

  Occurrence of hybrid Pallid Harrier x Hen Harrier in Fagne region during the winter of 2011-2012
Alain De Broyer

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Article summary

Hybridization between Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus and Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus is a recently reported phenomenon (first known case in 2005) that seems to be related to the recent expansion of Pallid Harriers across northern Europe, especially Finland, during summer. The plumage of those hybrids is variable with at least some characters being intermediate between the parent species. The most diagnostic character is considered to be the wing formula. During late summer and autumn of 2011, there was a substantial arrival of Pallid Harriers in Western Europe and among them around ten hybrids have been identified. Given the great rarity of hybridization known in the raptors family, especially between Harriers, this was a rather special event. Following this influx, in early 2012, two hybrids were photographed in Wallonia, the first in Villers-le-Gambon (Philippeville) from 30.01 to 19.03.2012, and the second in On (Marche-en-Famenne) on 08.04.2012. These are the first documented records for Belgium.

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