Scientific Journal of the BirdLife Hungary

A Magyar Madártani és Természetvédelmi Egyesület tudományos folyóirata

Ornis Hungarica. vol.29(1). (2021) p.139-148.

The possible occurrence of cranial asymmetry in three harrier (Accipitridae: Circus) species
Tibor Pecsics, András Marx & Tibor Csörgő

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The harriers (Accipitridae: Circus) represent a unique group of raptorial birds due to their hunting behaviour and their facial ruff and prominent facial disc. During previous studies it was suggested that harrier species may have other convergent features shared with owls like asymmetric or enlarged ear openings related to sensitive hearing capabilities. In this study, cranial asymmetry was done using SAGE (Symmetry and Asymmetry of Geometric Data) software. 32 skulls of 3 species (Western Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus) n=8, Montagu’s Harrier (Circus pygargus) n=10, Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus) n=14) were photographed, digitized and assigned with 2D landmarks with TpsDig software. The variables were analysed based on Generalized Procrustes analysis. The morphometric data showed cranial asymmetry of harriers. This asymmetry should rather be explained by foraging strategies as the results are corresponding to the exceptionally good hearing of these species among diurnal raptors.