Eastern Marsh Harrier

Scientific Name: Circus spilonotus

Malay Name: Helang-Sawah Biasa

Chinese Name: 白腹鹞

Range: Found from eastern Siberia, north-eastern China to northern Japan and winters to the Indian subcontinent, southern China, southern Japan, Korea and Southeast Asia

Taxonomy: Monotypic.

Size: 48-56 cm

Identification: Male resembles Pied Harrier but has black streaks on neck and breast and lacks large white patches on upperwing-coverts. Female resembles Pied Harrier but has dull rufous belly and thigh. Juvenile also resembles Pied Harrier but has darker brown body and pale head.

Similar looking species: Pied Harrier

Habitat: Open country, reclaimed land, grasslands and marshes.

Behaviour/Ecology: Usually flies low over open country with short flaps interspersed by long glides.

Local Status: Uncommon migrant

Conservation Status: Least Concern (BirdLife International 2021)

Location: Recent sightings were at Changi reclaimed land, Tanah Merah grassland, Kranji Marsh and Henderson Waves Bridge.

Migrant bar chart (see more bar charts):

Eastern Marsh Harrier Circus spilonotus
Estimated average number of individuals by week based on eBird data, Jul 2013 to Jun 2023
Peak week Nov 05-Nov 11
Early date 03 Oct 2017
Late date 11 Apr 2000
Wintering birds of this species are hardly seen nowadays due to loss of their grassland habitat, so the raptor migration in Oct and Nov is your best bet for this species, as with most other scarce raptors.


BirdLife International. (2021). Circus spilonotus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2021. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2021-3.RLTS.T61709141A203625947.en. Accessed on 1 January 2023

Jeyarajasingam, A., & Pearson, A. (2012). A Field Guide to the Birds of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore. Oxford University Press.

Robson, C. (2014). Field guide to the birds of South-East Asia (Second Edition). Bloomsbury Publishing, London.

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