The Common buzzard

The Common Buzzard

The Common Quail

Appearance and Behaviour

Length: 51-57 cm (20-22 inches); male wing 387 mm (15 inches), female wing: 397 mm (16 inches); wingspan: 112-143 cm (44-56 inches). Male weight 790 g (525-1183), female weight: 966 g (625-1364).

Dark brown feathering on the dorsal part of the body; whitish with brownish stains on the abdominal part, especially on the chest and flanks; sometimes, also, entirely brown barred with white colour; we notice a very wide individual variations; black horn-like-beak; yellow legs and talons, brown eye.

Common buzzard (female)

Above the meadow, a large dark bird swirls lazily, with large, very fingered wings. Without apparent effort, the bird rises slowly, leaning on a hot airflow. It is a buzzard, one of the largest western palearctic raptors, recognizable by the extent of its flight, its massive shapes and its proportions comparable – smaller of course and less tapered however – to those of the golden eagle.

From time to time, the bird starts by a descent, reduces the spread of the wing then, having regained a lift, climbs again. This is how the lazy hawk roams its territory all day long. To see hawks gliding imperturbably on the sky, gives us imagination that this bird flies for pleasure. The flight start is not lacking in elegance either, even if, starting from land, the raptor must first tear the body weight off the ground with very ample and slow flaps of the wings. With only a limited repertoire, the buzzard manifests itself as hissing, dragging meows, usually launched in sets of two or three.

The Common Buzzard's sound sample

Food

It is most often on the prowl that the buzzard chases. Posted on a fence post, or on the bare branch of a large tree, the bird methodically scans the ground; this close inspection can also take place from the sky. Let the first victim appears, and the raptor soars to its prey, grabs it in its mighty talons, finishes it off, and swallows it without further hesitation. Too slow to attack adult birds, the Common Hawk feeds primarily on small mammals, especially rodents. crossing through the fields “on foot”, it also seizes large insects, amphibians and even earthworms, in spring and summer, it also occasionally captures young birds that are still clumsy and may be as large as of the black crow.

Far from justifying its reputation as a chicken thief that, out of ignorance or refusal of reality, many farmers still peddle, the common buzzard turns out on the contrary like the fox or the barn owl, this bird is one of the very first predators of rodents. As such alone, it deserves the most total protection, especially when we know that its daily ration is 90 to 140g of rodents.

Common buzzard’s eggs

Reproduction

From the beginning of the year, no later than March, the couple relocate to their territory. Gliding in large circles, adding to their fly meowing and oblique dives, all these constitute the bulk of aerial games in which males and females willingly participate, especially in good weather. These manifestations are also the work of single birds in search of their partners.

It is in the large woods and infinite forests that the common buzzard (common hawk) usually build its nest, built more commonly in the edge of high tree rather than in its depth between brunches, it can be built against the trunk or on a large big strong branch too. In bocage areas, many couples settle on large isolated trees in the middle of the fields. Although birds can build their nets every year from scratch, the platforms are available in the abandoned areas of other raptors and old craw nests are much appreciated. This durable and weather-resistant foundation is then consolidated with branches, the interior of the nest being lined with dry grass and moss. The supply of materials to strengthen the nest continues until the departure of the young buzzards, the adults constantly filling the nest with fresh dry leaves.

The laying which begins in April consists of 2 or 3 eggs laid 2-3 days apart. White in colour, sometimes almost immaculate, more often smeared with brown, reddish and purplish spots. Medium size: 44 x 55 mm (1.73 x 2.16 inches); weight: 53 g. Incubation lasts 33 days, and sometimes reaches 35 days, and is provided by the female alone or by both partners, from the first or the second egg.

The young buzzards are brooded by the female for the first week after hatching and only remain under her attention for 14 days. Supply is then provided by the male, the female taking care of distributing the crutch to the chicks. The young buzzards leave the nest when they are 50-55 days old, but do not become independent until a month and a half later.

Migration

While the common buzzards (common hawks) breeding in temperate and warm Europe display a distinctly sedentary character, the same is not true of the breeders in the Scandinavian countries and Germany. In September and October, the increasing rigors of winter force these birds to desert their territories to migrate south and southwest both independently or in disjointed migrating groups. This is the reason why the west of France receives migrants from Norway, Sweden and Finland, and at the same time the east and south-east of Europe receive those coming from Germany.

Distribution

The Common buzzard (common hawk) breeds in Europe from the Strait of Gibraltar in the south to Sweden in the north, and from the Atlantic to Turkey. Other subspecies are known in the Azores, the Canary Islands, the Cape Verde Islands, Siberia and Japan.

A final word

We hope that this article helped you to get a better understanding of birds. For more articles retated to  Ornithology in specific or animals in general please visit our Animal Category.

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