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|Hen x Pallid Harrier (hybrid) (Circus cyaneus x macrourus (hybrid)) Hawks, Eagles and Kites (Accipitridae)|
|Blå Kærhøg x Steppehøg (hybrid) Aguilucho Pálido x Papialbo (híbrido)|
2021-09-14 Falsterbo, Scania, Sweden
Adult. Male. Ljungen.
When I first found this bird it looked very pale, like the other Pallid Harrier male we had just seen 10 minutes before. But the black in the hand was very broad, and instinctively I called it out as just a harrier.
Then I and we lost it while fumbling with our cameras, and only found it flying away toward Nabben. Here the photos show that it is a very slim bird, profile wise very good for a pure pallid, but the black in the hand is indeed too extensive, including all black outer primaries which should be gray. Also the trailing edge to the wing seems to be too marked for a pure pallid.
But talking against a pure Hen Harrier is the very slim profile of the bird, and the fact that the shape of the black in the hand seems different from what a normal hen shows. Also the dark trailing edge is too weak, and the general pale color of the bird is not how I normally see males, that often look shadily subdued - more dull. And in my eyes the hen males are more square and edgy.
Klaus Malling Olsen was the one commenting on the problematic hand should the bird have been a pure pallid, but his conclusion is that it is a molting hen male, which is why it shows the very narrow hand. Of course he has more experience than I have with these birds, but still I find it difficult to agree.
The shape of the black in the hand in most pure hen harriers is more square toward the arm, and an extra black primary would not change the perception of a very wedge shaped black marking. And again, the bird is very slim and very pale and shows practically no dark trailing edge. All so good for a pallid but rare for a pure hen. The hen male normally also shows a rather dark head contrasting with the body, which this bird doesn't show, though the angle is difficult to judge from.
Unfortunately there are no comments from the Swedish observers at Nabben on artsportalen.se about any unusual birds, but to support my idea, I've found a similar bird on netfugl.dk that Alex Sand Frich saw in Skagen in 2018. It looks very much like this bird, I think, and it has been labelled as the very same hybrid type.
With Pallid Harrier becoming more common in western Europe it seems logical that more hybrids will show up too, expecting that the pallids are entering territories of hens in a world where there is limited space left for expansion into virgin land.