Common buzzard (Buteo buteo) Is a bird of the hawk family of the order Falconiformes.
The common buzzard is a medium-sized bird of prey, larger than a crow. Coloring is quite variable, but usually birds have a brown-red overall plumage tone. However, there are also light-colored individuals. The coloration of males, females and young birds differs slightly. Females are slightly larger than males.
Both adults and young birds often emit nasal meowing cries - "buzzards", which is why the buzzard got its name.
The buzzard is widespread from Western Europe to Eastern Siberia. It can settle in almost any place where there is woody vegetation. The most common bird of prey in Central Russia and the Moscow region.
They are migratory, sometimes hibernate. They arrive quite early, usually with the first thawed patches in the fields. Different pairs of buzzards behave differently. Some are tied to their nesting sites, while others, on the contrary, change nesting sites every year. They usually settle near open spaces: fields, meadows, glades.
Buzzards feed mainly on mouse-like rodents and other small mammals, which they look out for in open spaces, soaring high in the sky or sitting on a perch. They often diversify their diet by eating frogs, lizards, snakes, large insects, chicks.
Nesting begins in May. The nest is located on large deciduous and coniferous trees, usually near the edge. In clutch there are 2-4 eggs, off-white color with brownish bloom and spots. The female incubates the clutch for a month. The male supplies the female with food, but almost does not take part in incubation. Chicks stay in the nest for about 6-7 weeks. After leaving, the brood does not disintegrate for several weeks, the adults feed the young. At the beginning of autumn, buzzards begin to gradually migrate to the south. The span is quite extended and lasts until a stable snow cover is established.
Description and features
The bird comes from a large family of small hawks. Body length 55- 57 cm, tail stretches 25-28 cm, rounded wings in span - about 120 cm. Females are usually larger than males. The weight of different individuals is 500-1300 g.
The feathery outfit of buzzards is so diverse that in practice it is impossible to find a pair of identical individuals. The range of colors includes black, grayish, brownish, white and yellow shades.
Some species are dominated by blackish-brown plumage with a transverse pattern on the tail feathers, while others have a light gray pattern with black markings and stripes. Young individuals are distinguished by a particularly variegated appearance. Below on the wings of birds there are light markings.
Paws are reddish-yellow, bluish beak at the base with a gradual transition to darkening at the very tip. The eyes are reddish in front of the eyes, light brown in chicks, but with age, the color gradually turns gray.
The buzzards have good eyesight, excellent touch. Predators have keen hearing and developed sense of smell. Buzzards are quick-witted, cunning. Owners of birds living in captivity note the developed avian intelligence.
Nasal buzzard's voice well known to many connoisseurs of nature. The sounds made by males are higher than the sounds made by females. It is possible to hear their songs only during the mating season. The rest of the time buzzards spend quietly, do not attract attention to themselves by screaming or other sounds.
Listen to the voice of the buzzard
In the classification of buzzards, two groups are conditionally distinguished:
- buteo - a sedentary lifestyle is characteristic, migration for a short distance is allowed,
- vulpinus - makes long-distance migrations, the exception is the population in the Himalayas.
Common types of buzzards are as follows:
- common buzzard... Individuals of medium size with varied variegated plumage. Distributed in the wooded part of the territory of Eurasia, lead a sedentary life,
- red-tailed buzzard. They live in North and Central America. They prefer forest areas near open landscape areas. The name speaks about the peculiarities of the color. The wings are characterized by a rounded shape,
- Buzzard. Large birds with a wingspan of 160 cm. The head and chest are light plumage, without streaks. The color of the abdomen, paws is reddish. They inhabit the Mediterranean zone, northern regions of Africa, Greece, Turkey. Mountainous landscapes, semi-deserts are attractive for the habitation of Long-legged Buzzards,
- Upland Buzzard... The bird is similar in size to the common buzzard. The difference is in the light color of the abdomen. The name emphasizes the peculiarity of the plumage of the feet to the toes. Inhabits the northern regions of Eurasia, North America, island territories,
- svenson buzzard. The size of birds is smaller than that of congeners. You can recognize the variety by a white spot on the throat, monochromatic brown wings without spots, and a light abdomen. The flight of a buzzard resembles the movements of a kite. Lives in Canada, Mexico. Goes to winter in California, Florida
It is easy to recognize the Svenson buzzard by the white plumage on the throat
- road buzzard. Similar in appearance to a sparrowhawk. The back is gray, the belly is light yellow with red stripes. The woodlands of the tropics and subtropics attract these birds,
- Galapagos Buzzard. Birds are small in size and brown in color. Gray stripes adorn the tail. This species is endemic to a large area of the Galapagos Islands,
- African mountain buzzard. Small birds with dark back plumage. The abdomen is whitish with brown spots. Lives in African countries among mountains and hills at an altitude of 4500 m above sea level,
- Madagascar Buzzard. Inhabits areas from open lowlands to mountains of tropical and subtropical humid forests,
- Upland Buzzard. The appearance resembles a long buzzard. The plumage is predominantly reddish brown. Nesting places - in the open steppes, in the Altai mountains, Manchuria. For the winter quarters, the bird flies to China, Turkestan, Iran,
- rock buzzard. Small head and powerful beak distinguish the mountain inhabitant of South Africa. The hawk has gray plumage and a reddish tail,
- fish buzzard. It prefers to swim near water bodies in woodlands. Lives in the lowlands of the tropics of Mexico, Argentina. Spiked paws
- hawk buzzard. The species is similar to the common buzzard. Breeds in eastern Asia. Hawk buzzard - rare view.
Lifestyle and habitat
The wide distribution of various species of buzzards covers the plain and mountainous areas. Buzzards do not allow strangers to enter inhabited areas. In the air, among the forests, they desperately attack outsiders, pushing them out of their space.
You can recognize a buzzard in the forest by its characteristic posture - the birds sit on the branches, bent and with a tucked leg. This does not prevent them from vigilantly watching what is happening around and looking out for prey. Even on vacation, birds do not lose their vigilance.
The buzzard flies slowly, silently, often soars for a long time over the green spaces. The bird rushes after the victim swiftly, pressing both wings to the body. Very close to the ground common buzzard rapidly spreads its wings and catches prey with tenacious claws.
In hunting, not only excellent sight and hearing help, but also cunning, dexterity, ingenuity. Such qualities save the predators themselves from natural enemies. It has been noticed that before spending the night, the buzzards confuse their tracks so that none of the hungry predators track down the bird.
Buzzards search for prey in open spaces. Birds hover in the air or look out for prey from a hill, while in ambush. There they are in complete immobility to remain unnoticed.
Migratory species flock to warmer regions in April-May, depending on weather conditions. Autumn flights occur between August and September.
The predator's diet is based on animal food: vole mice, rats, hamsters, moles, ground squirrels and other rodents, which the buzzard prefers to other food. The prey can be a medium-sized hare or a coastal toad. Grasshoppers, dragonflies, filly, locusts are eaten. The buzzard hunts birds - partridges, pheasants, blackbirds, and other small birds become prey.
Extermination of rodents buzzard bird is of great benefit. In just one day, up to 30 pieces of small agricultural pests become its food. During the year their number reaches approximately 11,000. Since rodents are the favorite food of the buzzards, during the periods of their mass distribution, birds do not switch to other food.
Poisonous snakes are known to prey on buzzards. But the bird itself is not protected from reptile poison. Lack of immunity leads to the death of a buzzard if the snake has time to bite it. This rarely happens.
The hawkish speed of the attack catches the victim by surprise. In the process, the buzzard is so swift that, having missed, it hits a tree trunk, a wall. In times of famine, the buzzard can eat carrion.
Clawed paws are used to hold prey, a sharp beak allows you to carve strong animal skins.
Reduction of buzzard when attacking prey
Reproduction and life expectancy
Buzzard females are larger than males. There are no other signs of difference between them. The created bird families are preserved for a long long life of birds.
Mating time for monogamous birds occurs in early spring. An irreconcilable struggle is waged between the males for the attention of the females. Air dances, soaring in the air, songs are performed to attract a couple. Sometimes there are serious battles.
Buzzard nest with eggs
Formed unions start building nests on deciduous, less often coniferous trees. The structure is being erected by birds together at a height of 6-15 meters at a fork in thick branches. Sometimes an old nest becomes a suitable base.
The family abode can be built on the rocks depending on the habitat of the birds. A bird's nest is built from twigs braided with dry grass. Inside, the bottom is lined with moss, green leaves, pieces of animal hair, feathers. The nest is carefully guarded from strangers.
In a clutch there are usually 3-4 eggs, less often 4-5, light green with dark specks. Both parents are engaged in incubation alternately for 5 weeks. Newborn chicks appear around the beginning of June and require constant attention.
The body of each chick is covered with a dark gray down. The female is constantly "on duty", the male buzzard hunts at this time to feed a large family. The brought prey is first eaten by the female, followed by the chicks.
The time spent by babies in the nest is approximately 40-50 days. The young grow stronger, learn to fly, and leave their parents by the beginning of August. During the season, the female buzzard manages to re-lay eggs and nurture chicks, if the first clutch could not be preserved. This serves as a natural defense against failed broods.
The life of buzzards is quite long, it is 24-26 years. In the conditions of reserves, in captivity, they live up to 30-32 years. Buzzard in the photo looks majestic, proud. It is a great success to meet him in nature. Not so often he flies into the forested zones of urban areas.
Bird watchers have noticed an interesting feature: where the buzzards appear - the crows disappear, they are afraid of the predator. But the buzzard will not offend, unlike crows, chicks of small birds, melodious nightingales, robins, starlings, if he has enough mice and locusts. Glorious bird!
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Previously considered a group of subspecies of the common buzzard (Buteo buteo). From the geographically close steppe buzzard (Buteo buteo vulpinus) is distinguished by a lesser development of bright red tones. Adult eastern buzzards on the dorsal side are dark brown or grayish brown with buffy-reddish or whitish feather edges, grayish-brown striated tail, ventral side with whitish or buffy throat and chest, sometimes more or less mottled longitudinal brown stripes with rusty belly and sides brown with a whitish transverse pattern, the tibia plumage is brown with narrow ocher transverse stripes. Juveniles in the first annual (breeding) plumage are less rufous, have buffy edges on the feathers of the dorsal side, the ventral side has no transverse pattern. There is also a monochromatic brown variation. The tarsus is usually slightly more than half feathered. Sizes are larger than vulpinus... The wing length of males is 365-388, of females 378- 426, on average, respectively, 377.9 and 399.2 mm. The length of males is 507-532, females are 530-574, on average 521.9 and 548.7 mm. Wingspan males 1104-1220, females 1200-1315.
In Siberia, nests within the forest zone and forest-steppe, east of the Yenisei valley. Also breeds in Kazakhstan - in Altai, Saur, Dzhungarskiy Alatau, Ketmen, Terskey, Kungei and Zailiyskiy Alatau. In eastern and southern Kazakhstan, it occurs on migration and wintering. Most of the birds migrate to winter, probably to East Asia, and winter in the nesting area only occasionally.
Inhabits coniferous and mixed forests near open areas. The nest is usually located on coniferous trees (pine, etc.) at a height of up to 15 m from the ground, the nest is built from twigs, the tray is lined with bast and green twigs.
Sources of information
Gavrilov E. I., Gavrilov A. E. "The Birds of Kazakhstan". Almaty, 2005.
Dementyev G.N., Gladkov N.A. "Birds of the Soviet Union". Volume 1. Moscow, "Soviet Science", 1951.
V.K. Ryabitsev. "Birds of Siberia". Moscow-Yekaterinburg, Publishing House "Cabinet Scientist", 2014.