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Common Buzzard

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Is the Common Buzzard right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Eurasian Buzzard

Scientific name: Buteo buteo buteo

The basics:
The Common Buzzard is the widespread, common, highly visible buteo of Europe, where it's found in a variety of open habitats such as farms, marshes, and meadows. B. buteo is a diverse species with a complex taxonomy, but the nominate subspecies is the one found in the United Kingdom and western Europe. In decades gone by, U.K. falconers experimented with it as a beginner's bird, but it has a fatal flaw – many individuals refuse to hunt. Today, the cooperative Harris's Hawk would be recommended instead, while the Common Buzzard is vanishing from falconry. The species is seldom bred today, despite a legal requirement that only captive-bred birds may be used for falconry in the United Kingdom. The general consensus is that this bird is best enjoyed in the wild.

Because of the licensing and expertise required to be a responsible owner of a bird of prey, the following information is offered only as a hint of what you will need to learn to work with Common Buzzards. There is no substitute for hands-on training, which we strongly recommend that you pursue before trying to acquire any bird of prey.

The widespread Common Buzzard will nest in a tree in a woodland area that allows it to hunt in more open territory – perhaps one reason it can be easily seen not too far from human towns, suburbs, or even agricultural areas that have left some standing forest.

Appearance:
A mid-sized bird of prey, with broad wings and a fairly calm manner.

Average weight:
Male: 806 grams (28.4 oz.)
Female: 938 grams (33 oz.)

Average size:
49 centimeters (19 in.)

Lifespan:
25 - 28 years

Behavior / temperament:
Jemima Parry-Jones, third generation falconer, noted in her 1994 book, Training Birds of Prey that the Common Buzzard can be readily trained to become something of a pet that follows you around. She also advised that it's considerably more frustrating to try to teach it to hunt. In her colorful words, this species is, “A bird happy to fail in catching things, especially with a human 'mug' to feed it.”

Housing:
A good Common Buzzard pen, aviary, or mews will provide shade from direct sunlight in the summer and protection from extremes of winter weather. A roof that completely covers the structure is stronger and offers more protection from high winds. Good drainage, a selection of perches at different heights, and possibly some enrichment toys may be added to the pen. Like most birds of prey, they will enjoy some clean, shallow water for bathing.

Diet:
The Common Buzzard is a carnivore that needs to consume some whole prey in order to allow its digestive system to work properly. Successful falconers warn against the practice of only feeding one food, such as day old chicks or jack rabbits. A varied diet that includes chicks, rabbits, rodents, quail, and more is much healthier. It should also be provided with water.

Written by Elaine Radford

wonderful

quick learner, amazing bird, free flight

challenging

terrible hunter

interesting

natural diet, carrion, worms, carcass

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