Swamp Harrier

Habitat: Wetland, Grassland


The Swamp Harrier is found in terrestrial wetlands and open country of tropical and temperate Australia and New Zealand. It is mainly seen in fresh or salt wetlands, often in deep swamps with emergent reeds and over open water. In New Zealand it is more widely found, not just in wetlands.

Did you know?

This species is also known as the Marsh Harrier.


Swamp Harriers are easily disturbed at the nest and will abandon their eggs and even downy young if approached by people.


Swamp Harriers hunt for birds and eggs, large insects, frogs, reptiles and small mammals up to the size of hares or rabbits. When hunting they ‘quarter’, which means that they systematically search for prey by gliding low to the ground or water, then drop down onto their quarry. In New Zealand, Swamp Harriers often feed on carrion (dead animals).


The nest of the Swamp Harrier is made of straw and grasses, hidden above the water in dense reeds in a swamp or in crops or long grasses near water. They usually nest in single pairs. The female incubates and broods the young, while the male hunts for food. He transfers the food to the female in the air, before she feeds it to the young.