Buzzard (Buteo buteo)

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A majestic bird of prey that has made a major comeback across the UK.

Scientific name: Buteo buteo

Family: Accipitridae (hawks and eagles)

Appearance

Head: brown in colour with a short neck.

Wings: its upperwings are a mottled mix of browns with dark wingtips. The underwings are quite different; pale brown and grey-white. However, these colours do vary. The broad wings typically span around 120 cm and are rounded in shape. The buzzard often holds its wings in a shallow 'V' shape as it glides and soars through the air, searching for its next meal.

Body: it is a large bird with a short tail which fans out as it glides. Its body is covered in brown feathers and the front is streaked with cream.

Where to spot

One of our most common birds of prey, buzzards can be seen across the country. Legal protection and a reduction in the use of certain pesticides has allowed the population to flourish, with growth of 465% recorded between 1970 and 2015. Buzzards can be found in a wide range of habitats, including woodland, farmland and uplands.

Feeding

Small rodents and rabbits account for much of the species' diet, but it will also take other birds and even invertebrates such as worms. Carrion is also readily taken. A buzzard can catch its prey using several different techniques; it will hunt from a perch, locating its prey from up high and then flying directly to it. It will also soar over fields and woods, hanging in the wind until it spots food. The buzzard will also walk across the ground to find insects and invertebrates.

Breeding

The buzzard breeds when it reaches three years of age, laying between two and four eggs with red and brown markings. The young are raised between March and June in nests made of twigs and heather. Nests are usually in trees, or on rocky crags or cliffs. Each year, a different nesting site is used, and a buzzard can have up to three possible nesting sites in its strongly defended territory.

Facts

  • Has a typical lifespan of 12 years.
  • Has a cat-like call, which can be heard throughout the year, but most commonly in spring.
  • UK population is estimated at 67,000 breeding pairs.

 

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