The Reunion harrier: Reunion's last bird of prey

Focus on

Published on 03 February 2017

The most remarkable and best protected species on the island are the birds that inhabit both the highlands and lowlands. You'll get a chance to spot some of these birds - while out hiking along trails, through primary forests, or walking along the coast - including: the Reunion stonechat, the Mascarene paradise flycatcher, the Reunion Cuckooshrike, the village weaver and, of course, the marsh harrier. 

The marsh harrier is Reunion's most emblematic bird. This impressive looking harrier is Reunion's only bird of prey. The male bird can be easily identified in flight by his white feathers and black wing tips; while the female is brown and slightly lighter with a white patch at the base of its tail.

With its wings fully extended, the marsh harrier reveals its full majesty, spanning up to 1.2 metres in length. You can often spot them soaring over ravines. They live on moderately hilly land, 500-2,000 m above sea level, but can also be seen in urban areas. This predator feeds on small mammals and birds ... Its nickname is "marsh harrier, chicken thief" as it sometimes attacks hens and pigeons. Today this bird is a protected species and, together with the Reunion cuckooshrike (tuit tuit), has just been listed as a one of the world's rarest birds.

Sarah Caceres, Jean-Noël Jasmin and Olivier Payet, three photographers who are passionate about Reunion's wildlife and the Reunion marsh harrier in particular, have published an exceptional book about this endemic species, which is emblematic of the island. The book, entitled "Marsh harriers, Reunion birds of prey" has two hundred illustrated pages with three hundred spectacular, beautiful and original photographs, informative texts and information about the protection of this beautiful Reunion bird.