• Home

Feature Creature - Buzzard

Credits: Wildstock

What a marvellous sight it is, seeing this feature creature, the BUZZARD. This large bird of prey is on a bit of a comeback in the UK, with numbers increasing and spreading quickly. Where once you might have been hard pushed to see one, they are now becoming easier to see than kestrels.

Fantastic facts:

 

*Favourite foods: road kill, rabbits, carrion, worms and beetles    

 

*Enemies: crows and jackdaws, humans     *Size: The UK's largest hawk

 

*Life span: the oldest wild buzzard recorded was almost 25 years old    

 

*Call: a high-pitched, cat-like mewling     *Latin name: Buteo buteo (the latin word for buzzard)    

 

But what are these birds of prey and what can they do? Buzzards are:

 

Pretty big

 

If you've spotted a huge bird circling overhead, chances are it was a buzzard. They are fairly easy to spot on car journeys, often gliding effortlessly on their large open wings. They are often mistaken for eagles but are in fact much smaller and far more common across most of the UK.

 

Look for the brown and white patterns on the undersides of their wings and the rounded, blunt tips. Like many other birds of prey, the females are larger than the males.

 

Scavengers

 

Despite their large size, buzzards are quite happy to avoid hunting if they can get away with it. They are often seen feeding from dead animals and roadkill, will forage on ploughed fields for juicy worms and will even steal from other predators!

 

One of the hunting tactics of the buzzard is to sit and wait, watching for the movement of small mammals from a favourite perch. They are often seen on fence posts, telephone polls and in low tree branches.

 

Returning

 

Not so long ago, buzzards became a rare sight in the UK. Like many other birds of prey, their numbers fell due to human pressures, but changing attitudes is helping them to return to old haunts. Buzzards now breed in every county in the UK and are thought to be our commonest bird of prey.  

 

Sky dancers

 

When it comes to attracting the ladies, buzzards have a special trick up their sleeve. They perform elaborate display flights over their territories to show off their flight skills and advertise their patch as a good place to build a nest. They climb high into the air and circle before plummeting down towards the earth.

 

Buzzards are also rather unpopular with some of the other birds they share the sky with, in particular crows and jackdaws. The smaller birds mob and bully birds of prey when they spot them to persuade them to go away!

 

Credits: Buzzard in flight and buzzard in tree (c) Amy Lewis / Raven mobbing buzzard (c) Steve Waterhouse