NZ Birds of Prey / extinct / Eyles Harrier
When did the Eyles Harrier become Extinct?
At four times the weight of the NZ Swamp Harrier, the Eyles Harrier was the largest species of harrier ever to have lived.
The Eyles or Forbes’ Harrier, Circus teauteensis, went extinct sometime soon after the arrival of Maori. Like the Haast’s eagle it could not cope with the dramatic changes in the landscape caused by the arrival of humans, including the introduction of predators, the modification of large areas of habitat and, probably most significantly, the reduction in available prey.↑
Its relatively short wings and stocky powerful feet suggest that it did not hunt by quartering the ground like the Australasian harrier but pursued prey aggressively. With much of New Zealand being forested at the time it may well have adapted to hunt in a variety of ways like the New Zealand falcon.
Where did it live and What was its prey?
The Eyles Harrier appears to have occurred over much of New Zealand with some sites suggesting that the New Zealand native pigeon kererū (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae) was a major food source. They would have also taken some smaller species of Moa.↑
Details of this impressive predator are scant, but one thing is for sure - being second in size only to the Haast’s Eagle this would have been another mighty predator of the prehistoric New Zealand skies!
Image licensed to Wingspan by Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa