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Buzzard Buteo buteo AKA: Common buzzard

The commonest UK bird of prey, it is quite large with broad, rounded wings, and a short neck and tail. When gliding and soaring it will often hold its wings in a shallow 'V'. It is variable in colour from all dark brown to birds with pale heads and breasts, all have dark wingtips and an unbanded tail.

Where does it live? - Breeding

Likes trees and hilly crags for nesting with open farmland and moorland nearby to feed over. Where to see it Greatest numbers in Scotland, Wales, the Lake District and SW England. Found on farmland with wooded hills, moorland and in more arable areas to the east where it is spreading. Look for birds soaring over wooded hillsides in fine weather, or perched on fence posts and pylons.

Did you know

The buzzard has one of the most variable plumages of any wild bird, and so the identification can be difficult. It is readily confused with honey buzzard, rough-legged buzzard, hen harrier, marsh harrier, red kite, and even golden eagle.

The name buzzard comes from the French busard and replaced the Old English name of tysca. Falconers considered buzzards worthless, and the word buzzard is still used colloquially by some to denote stupidity.

The colloquial name gled means glider, whilst puddock or puttock indicates a dependence on frogs and toads.

The newest name for the buzzard is tourists eagle, a rather unkind name coined by the Scots due to the regularity with which visitors mistake buzzards for golden eagles.


Food is principally small mammals, but in their absence birds, reptiles, amphibians, larger insects, and earthworms are also taken. Prey up to 500g in weight is taken by active predation, anything heavier than this is usually carrion or seriously enfeebled individuals. Gamebirds are seldom taken, even in areas where birds form an important part of the diet.

Buzzards use three main hunting techniques. They locate prey from a perch and then fly direct to the located prey, sometimes using intervening cover for a surprise attact. They often soar over open terrain, occasionally hanging in the wind or hovering before dropping on to the prey and following up the attack on the ground. They can also be seen walking or standing on the ground whilst looking for invertebrates.

Legal status

The buzzard is protected at all times by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. It is an offence to take, injure or kill a buzzard, or to take, damage or destroy its nest, eggs or young.

Wild common buzzards are allowed to be kept in captivity only temporarily if they are injured, and then must be released back to the wild at the earliest opportunity. Captive bred individuals can be legally kept, but these must be ringed if they are to be sold. Sale or public display of buzzards are controlled by Article 10 licence. All the licensing matters are dealt with by Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in Britain and by Department for Agriculture in Northern Ireland.

The Common Buzzard (Buteo Buteo) is a large bird of prey and one of the most visible of Britain's raptors. The Common Buzzard has a large British population and can often be seen on a clear day out in the British countryside. It can be observed either sitting on a fence post awaiting its next meal to pass by or soaring swiftly in groups of two or more on the afternoon thermals. Buzzards are to be found throughout much of the UK but are still best found in hilly terrain in the West of the UK, especially in areas with barren open ground. Some good places include Dartmoor and the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire. In Scotland, because of their size, behaviour and markings, the Common Buzzard is often mistaken for juvenile Golden Eagles, especially when they are soaring.