Bird Sightings : Hebrides : Buzzard
Photograph © Brian Hayes
Isle of Lewis - Outer Hebrides (Western Isles)
"I have just found your web site and I thought I would send in a couple of photos I took August 2007 on the isle of Lewis. I was advised by a birder at work that they were Goshawks, but after a bit of research I think that is unlikely. Please feel free to use them on your web site and I would be most grateful if you could identify them. They were a pair perched on a high rock at the side of the road. We parked and walked back and they both took off and circled for a while. Not sure the exact location but it was on a trip back from Haris to Crulivig."
I reckoned them to be Buzzards, so I asked Martin Scott from Western Isles RSPB about them.
"Just Buzzards in the pics - but nice none the less - and quite pale ones. There is a lot of individual variation."
Our Buzzard photographs
- Buteo buteo
- Gaelic: Clamhan
- UK: Resident Breeder, Passage/Winter Visitor
- UK: 38,000 territories (Summer) BTO
- WI: Fairly common resident breeder (100-999 breeding pairs)
- Breeding: Pairs mate for life. Fiercely territorial. Woodland fringes, cliffs, moorland valleys. Europe, Asia.
- Winters: Mostly resident all year except in northernmost parts. Some birds head South to S Asia, S Africa. Several may be seen together on migration
- Habitat: Soaring over woodland, moor, heath, farmland. Perches on fence posts etc.
- Diet: Opportunist hunts over open land (& walks) - small mammals, birds, reptiles, large insects, earthworms, snakes, lizards, carrion.
- Large 51-57cm (20-22in) length, chunky. Short, broad tail. Short neck. Rounded head. Plumage usually shades of brown, but can vary from all dark-brown to almost pure white. Often has pale U-shape on breast.
Wings short, broad, rounded. Wingspan 110-130cm (48-60 in). Gliding & soaring holds wings in shallow 'V'.
- Max recorded age 28yrs 9mths. Typical lifespan 8yrs
- Listen to a Buzzard (RSPB web site) . call is a plaintive peea-ay, similar to a cat's meow
- Similar birds: Honey Buzzard (rare), Rough-legged Buzzard (rare), Golden Eagle
The Buzzard is the most common UK bird of prey.
The male performs an aerial courtship display early in the year. He flies high up in the sky, then plummets downward in a twisting spiral, then rise upward once more and repeats the plummeting fall, this is known as the "Roller Coaster".
Buzzard records in the Western Isles
Fairly common resident breeder (100-999 breeding pairs)
On the chart below the darker the shade of blue the more abundant the Buzzard is during a month or the more likely you are to see it.
(Source: Outer Hebrides Birds Checklist)
Threats to the Buzzard Population
Buzzards are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. It is an offence to kill, injure or take an adult Buzzard, or to take, damage or destroy an active nest or its contents.
Henry VIII made egg stealing illegal, but did not include Buzzards. Later James I of Scotland ordered the killing of all Buzzards.
By the end of the 19th century the Buzzard was extinct in Ireland and had been almost wiped out in the UK. All birds of prey were reduced at this time as guns became widespread. The population began to increase in the early 1900's but myxomatosis was introduced in the 1950's and 99% of rabbits in the UK were killed - the major food source of the Buzzard at the time. The species declined once again.
The Buzzard is an opportunist and as it widened the range of it's diet, it's numbers began to increase.
The main threat to Common Buzzards in the UK remains as shooting and poisoning. Both are illegal. Currently there are re-introduction projects running in some parts of the UK.
- Keep your eyes open for trouble.
- Quickly phone the police or RSPB if you are at all worried about the safety of the Buzzards.
- Don't tell people if you know where there are Buzzard nests
- If you know where the Buzzards are breeding do not take photographs of them on the nest. Disturb protected breeding birds and you are going to be arrested ...
- Don't mention where you have seen Buzzards during breeding time - (locations where the birds of prey have been sighted at breeding time are kept vague on our bird sightings page)
Other local bird photographs
Sources of information for the bird sightings section