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Sunday, 6 October 2013


Despite its impressive size, the buzzard is not a major predator, preferring a diet of carrion and earthworms.

A hungry buzzard is quite capable of killing a wide variety of prey, ranging from rabbits to birds up to the size of a wood pigeon, but any larger prey tackled was probably already sick. Among the more unusual items recorded as being killed and eaten are puffins, frogs and dung beetles.

The birds – which live for around 12 years and mate for life – make a mewing sound like a cat.

Numbers are greatest where the fields are smallest, as it favors abundant hedgerows and small woods.

Buzzards were almost hunted out of existence in the United Kingdom by gamekeepers frightened they would destroy their pheasants and grouse. For a time they were restricted largely to the west and north of mainland Britain

Today, however, there are up to 68,000 following the introduction of restrictions on killing them.  It is thought that the buzzard is now the UK's commonest bird of prey, pushing the kestrel into second place.

While British buzzards are largely resident, many northern populations are highly migratory, many moving to Africa during the northern winter.

The buzzard is a very adaptable species, able to survive in a wide variety of habitats from lowland farms to high mountains. Its main requirement is a tree at least 20ft high in which to nest.

Buzzards build their own nest, and they have a curious habit of decorating it with fresh green foliage. Though most buzzards nest in trees, rocky crags or cliffs are also used. Each pair will have as many as 21 potential nest sites, usually changing to a fresh site every year.

Buzzards breed in every European country except Iceland, but are absent from some offshore island groups, including the Balearics.

Buzzards have remarkably variable plumage. Most individuals are brown and heavily marked, but some are almost white. It is because of its highly variable plumage that the French call it the buse (buzzard) variable.

In the USA, the word buzzard is often used to describe the native turkey vultures. The two species are not related.

Orville and Wilbur Wright build and fly the first self propelled plane at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina The brothers were inspired by the way buzzards spread their wings to design their flying machines. They realised that the bird retained balance in the air by twisting the tip of its wings so they created a wing warping method based on this observation.

Sources Daily Mail,  RSPB

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