40 - 58cm
1.1 - 1.4m
0.4 - 1.4kg
8 - 12 yrs
The common buzzard, sometimes referred to as the Eurasian buzzard, is a medium-to-large bird of prey in the family Accipitridae. “Buteo” literally means “buzzard” – as they are known in Eurasia - yet in North America they are considered hawks. This is perhaps due to DNA evidence which suggests the common buzzard is closely related to the red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis).
Most European buzzards are largely a dark brown colour on the upperside, whereas the paler underside can be many shades lighter (sometimes even white) barred with irregular streaks of brown across the neck and breast. The paler breast area is sometimes described as “U-shaped”, and this “U” can still be seen even in individuals with darker plumage variation.
What Does it Look Like?
What Does it Sound Like?
Its voice is relatively consistent across subspecies. The primary contact call is a “pee-yow” or “pee-oo” which can be altered depending on the situation, for example becoming sharper and more piercing when used in aggression. It can also make what is generally described as cat-like mewing, which tends to be performed on the wing whilst in display.
Like many European bird of prey species, it typically hunts small mammals – particularly rodents - meaning voles are perhaps the most important source of prey. However, as a generalist predator it will eat almost anything ranging from the size of a caterpillar up to a large rabbit, including other birds, reptiles and fish - whether living or dead.
What Does it Eat?
Where Does it Nest?
Nests tend to be built in a tall tree from sticks and lined with readily available foliage, however sometimes rocky crags or riverbanks are used. On average, 2 or 3 eggs are laid a few days apart which are then incubated for about 35 days. Once hatched, they are fed until they can tear their own food, although the youngest is often left to starve.
Its population appears to be densest across Europe (including into Russia), but it appears to have expanded into parts of the Middle East via Turkey and often migrates in winter into the southern African continent from Uganda and Kenya through to South Africa. It can be found inhabiting forest edges by adjacent grassland or farmland.
Where Does it Live?
What is its Status?
There at least 700,000 breeding pairs throughout Europe, making for a global population well into the millions and placing it as perhaps the most prevalent diurnal bird of prey in its range. Most of its threats are now historic; today, power-line collisions and potential disturbances from wind power development are now considered the most problematic.
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