Somerset Wildlife Trust

Work For Us|



Scientific name: Buteo buteo

The Buzzard is a medium to large bird of prey, typically between 51 to 57 cm in length with a 110 to 130 cm wingspan. There are around 40,000 breeding pairs in Britain. It is usually resident all year in the UK.

It breeds in woodland, usually on the fringes, but favours hunting over open land. It eats mainly small mammals, and will come to carrion.

Buzzards do not normally form flocks, but several may be seen together on migration or in good habitat. They are fiercely territorial and, though rare, fights do break out if one strays on another pair's territory, but dominant displays of aggression will normally see off the interloper. Pairs mate for life. To attract a mate (or impress his existing mate) the male performs a ritual aerial display before the beginning of spring. This spectacular display is known as 'the roller coaster'. He will rise high up in the sky, then turn and plummet downward in a spiral, twisting and turning as he does so. He then rises immediately upward to repeat the exercise.

The plumage can vary in Britain from almost pure white to black, but is usually shades of brown, with a pale 'necklace' of feathers. The call is a plaintive peea-ay, similar to a cat's meow.

Information and photograph courtesey of