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Buteo buteo (Common buzzard / Şahin)

Buteo buteo (Common buzzard / Şahin)


Buteo buteo (Common buzzard / Şahin) from İzmir Bird Paradise, Sasalı, İzmir - 15.01.2011.

One of the most common raptor species in Europe, this medium-sized bird of prey is recognisable for its rounded head and tail, broad wings and soaring, circling flight. While the common buzzard’s plumage is usually brown, the exact colouration and patterning is highly variable, with shades such as blackish-brown, reddish-brown and pale whitish-brown all potentially exhibited. The upperparts are darker then the underparts, and the wingtip and trailing edge of the wing are also noticeably darker than the rest of the wing feathers. Both the tail and flight feathers are barred, and the throat and breast may be streaked. The call of this species is a mewing “pee-yow”. While there are 11 subspecies of common buzzard usually recognised, which differ in size, colouration and plumage pattern, the exact taxonomic separation of this species is a matter of some debate.

The Common Buzzard is a medium to large bird of prey, whose range covers most of Europe and extends into Asia. It is typically between 51 and 57 cm in length with a 110–150 cm (1 metre to a metre and half) (48–60 inch) wingspan, making it a medium-sized raptor. There are around 40,000 breeding pairs in Britain. It is usually resident all year, except in the coldest parts of its range, and in the case of one subspecies. It breeds in woodlands, usually on the fringes, but favours hunting over open land. It eats mainly small mammals, and will come to carrion. A great opportunist, it adapts well to a varied diet of pheasant, rabbit, other small mammals to medium mammals, snakes and lizards, and can often be seen walking over recently ploughed fields looking for worms and insects. The birds have incredible strength and are therefore able to pick up food of all weights.

Buzzards do not normally form flocks, but several may be seen together on migration or in good habitat. The Victorian writer on Dartmoor, William Crossing, noted he had on occasions seen flocks of 15 or more at some places. Though a rare occurrence, as many as 20 buzzards can be spotted in one field area, approximately 30 metres apart, so cannot be classed as a flock in the general sense, consisting of birds without a mate or territory. They are fiercely territorial, and, though rare, fights do break out if one strays onto 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, to turn and plummet downward, in a spiral, twisting and turning as he comes down. He then rises immediately upward to repeat the exercise.

This broad-winged raptor has a wide variety of plumages, and in Europe can be confused with the similar Rough-legged Buzzard (Buteo lagopus) and the only distantly related Honey Buzzard (Pernis apivorus), which mimics the Common Buzzard's plumage for a degree of protection from Northern Goshawks. 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.

References: 1. ARKive, 2. WiKiPeDia.