Definition of hen harrier in English:

hen harrier

Line breaks: hen har|rier


  • A widespread harrier of open country, the male of which is mainly pale grey and the female brown.
    • Circus cyaneus, family Accipitridae. North American name: marsh hawk, northern harrier
    More example sentences
    • The tracking also showed that a peregrine falcon took a juvenile hen harrier fledged from one of the eight successful nests.
    • As we enjoyed watching hundreds of them flying in to a stubble field to rest and doze in the midday sun, my wife spotted a ring-tail hen harrier quartering a beet field yet to be harvested.
    • A big raptor flew low and light over the scene under the open sky, a hen harrier, a heavy-duty killer.


mid 16th century: so named because it was believed to prey on poultry.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day mage
Pronunciation: meɪdʒ
a magician or learned person