In the dictionary, the word harry is defined as meaning to harass, annoy, or prove a nuisance to by repeated attacks. Randy Finley of Wildlifist generously shares with us a photo series that shows exactly how the Northern Harrier earned its evocative name…

On a recent chilly late December morning, I was visiting the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge on the California/Oregon border. I spotted a Northern Harrier cruising along one of the canals parallel to the auto route. Suddenly, she dove straight into the canal and there was a ruckus of splashing and flapping.

She had a American Coot in her talons, and was holding its head underwater to drown it.

After a minute, the coot’s wings stopped beating the water and went limp. The harrier held her victim under for another minute or two for good measure.

Then, inexplicably, the harrier released her prey and flew off.

The coot’s head popped up and it paddled away at a leisurely pace as if nothing had happened, seemingly not too much worse for the wear. If only I had that kind of power to forgive and forget.

All photos by Randy Finley. Used with permission.

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