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Buzzard

Common Buzzard Buzzard Both Sexes
Dark brown upperparts, can be paler underneath. In flight, short neck and broad wings.
Distribution map - when and where you are most likely to see the species.
Buteo buteo
Length: 51-57 cm  (20-23")
Wing Span: 113-128 cm  (45-51")
Weight: 550-1300 g  (1¼-3 lb)  
Breeding Pairs: 14 500
Present: All Year
Status: Green
Description   Voice   Feeding   Nesting   Movements   Conservation   My Garden  
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Description

In flight, the Buzzard seems very short-necked, has a relatively short, broad tail and has broad wings with fingers - this reduces turbulence (see flight). The wings are held in a shallow "V" when soaring.

When perched they look as though their head is hunched into the shoulders.

The Buzzard's plumage can be very varied, but it is typically dark brown above and below. The breast is finely barred and can be pale, and the underside of the wings and tail are pale. There is usually a pale band on the breast. The tail is lightly barred.

Juveniles are usually lighter underneath.

The Buzzard is common in western Britain. However, the breeding bird surveys of 1968-72 and 1989-91 clearly show that they are spreading eastwards in mainland Britain and becoming more common in Ireland.

Voice

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  Quicktime mp3

The Buzzard has a loud drawn-out mewing call.

Feeding

They feed on small mammals, like voles and rabbits, but also birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects and worms.

Often they can be seen perched on gate posts or branches from where they can lookout for prey. Alternatively, they scan open ground while soaring.

Nesting

Buzzards nest in trees, in woods, on farmland, moors or scrub. The nest is usually made from twigs and lined with moss and bracken. Frequently, the same nest is used year after year.

The male and female take turns incubating the eggs. The eggs are about 55 mm by 45 mm, smooth and non-glossy, white with brownish or purplish blotches. Both adults feed the young birds, though the newly-hatched are usually fed by the female with the male hunting and bringing the food to the nest.

Breeding Data
Breeding Starts Number of Clutches Number of Eggs Incubation (days) Fledge (days)
late-March 1 2-5 33-35 50-55

Movements

The Buzzard is mainly resident, but some do migrate to eastern Britain in the autumn where they spend the winter.

Conservation

Buzzard populations are slowly recovering to their original levels before they suffered an appalling decline caused by unlawful persecution and myxomatosis among rabbits, its chief prey. Sadly, the birds are still persecuted with some dying each year from poisoning.

My Garden

Graph of garden visits.

One weekend in February 2001, while walking around my local woods, I saw a Buzzard fly overhead and give its mewing call.

The same week, during a snow blizzard, a Buzzard landed on a clothes post in the garden and terrorised the other birds that had been feeding. After about 20 minutes it flew away, never to be seen again - oh, I do hope not!


Last revision: 06 Sep 2013
Copyright © David Gains 1999-2014.
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