RARE BIRD ALERT: EURASIAN MARSH-HARRIER

UPDATE: 28 Aug 2022 – Unfortunately there were no sightings of the Eurasian Marsh-Harrier today, despite many observers looking in the area. Late August is the time when marsh-harriers are beginning their fall migration, so this bird may be on its way south, so birders in areas like the Scarborough Marsh or Parker River NWR (Massachusetts) should keep their eyes peeled for this bird. That said, there is plenty of habitat at Weskeag Marsh and its surrounding fields, and the marsh-harrier was seen successfully hunting multiple times, so it could still be in the area and using an area inaccessible to birders. Time will tell!

UPDATE: 27 Aug 2022 – The Eurasian Marsh-Harrier was seen again today, throughout the morning at Weskeag Marsh, map here. First seen around 7AM, most views were reported from the hill to the south of the parking area. The last report was that the bird “flew back to the west … landing in a high field across the road at 925.” As of 5PM there were no other sightings today.

UPDATE: 26 Aug 2022 – The Eurasian Marsh-Harrier was found today at Weskeag Marsh by Evan Obercian. The bird was first seen at 9:40AM but had disappeared into the trees on the far edge of the marsh by 10:15AM. Thick fog made constant monitoring difficult, and the bird wasn’t seen again until 2:05PM when it flew into the marsh from the south, approached the parking area, then disappeared to the south again. The last sighting of the day was at 2:45, when the bird “flew upriver across Buttermilk Road and out of sight.”

The best views of Weskeag Marsh are found at the parking area on Buttermilk Road, map here. If the parking lot is full, effort should be made to keep all overflow vehicles on the west side of the road keep traffic from becoming congested.


First Maine was visited by a Great Black Hawk from Central America, then a Steller’s Sea-Eagle from Siberia, so why not a raptor from Europe? Well that happened today when Byron Swift found a female Eurasian Marsh-Harrier on North Haven.

Byron found and photographed this bird at Fresh Pond on Thursday (25 Aug) morning, around 8AM. Unfortunately the bird was not seen again during an hour long watch around 11AM. While this may turn out to be a “one day wonder” it is such an incredible rarity that we hope this blog will help get the word out, get more eyes open and looking, and perhaps lead to its rediscovery! Here is Byron’s eBird list with more photos: ebird.org/checklist/S117527547

Why this is noteworthy: As mentioned, Eurasian Marsh-Harrier is an Old World bird of prey, most similar to (but quite unique from) our Northern Harrier. This species has only strayed to the Western Hemisphere a few times, with only one record in the US (though it wasn’t documented with any photos or other media). Thanks to Louis Bevier, here is a list of New World records: Virginia sight record 1994, Guadeloupe 2002 and 2015, and two Puerto Rico records (2004 and 2006), Bermuda December 2015 to April 2016 on Bermuda, and Barbados 2015.

Updates: We’ll update this blog but the most timely reports from the field can be found on the Maine Rare Bird Alert GroupMe is the best place for quick and timely updates. Instructions for joining that GroupMe can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/MaineRBAGroupMeRules This is the most timely and direct way to get updates out to the community. eBird is of course a great place to report sightings and the default repository now for records, but these often don’t get posted or distributed as quickly as the GroupMe. The best place to see updates on eBird is by using the Knox Rare Bird Alert.

(You can also follow Doug on Twitter for updates!)