Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo)

(55 cm.) Large; Upperparts dark reddish-brown; brown “mustache’”; underparts whitish; In flight: wide, rounded wings; white patch near the base of primary feathers; usually has a black bar near tip of tail

The Common Buzzard is a large “bird of prey”. It is one of several species of hunting birds with certain adaptations for the killing of other birds, reptiles, and small mammals. Birds of prey are all armed with sharp, powerful claws on their feet called, “talons”. It is the talons of these birds that usually perform the killing task.  All birds of prey also have sharply hooked bills designed by nature for tearing flesh. Eagles, buzzards, falcons, ospreys, and owls are all considered birds of prey. At times, these birds are also called, “Raptors”

The Common Buzzard and other Raptors which share the genus, “Buteo”, are referred to individually as “hawks” in North America, or “Buteos” as a group. These birds are usually called “buzzards” in Europe and Asia.

All buzzards are fairly large Raptors with broad bodies, wings, and tails. They are usually seen soaring in the skies overhead floating in the air without much movement of their wings. All buzzards are masters of this energy-conserving mode of flight. In summer, the heated air rising from the ground can allow these birds to soar for several hours without any movement of their wings.

Although many colloquial names are given to raptors in different parts of the world, their scientific names are standardized world-wide. The Common Buzzard, along with other buzzards, eagles and vultures are all part of the family, “Accipitrinae”.

The Common Buzzard, as its name suggests, is a common member of its family, and indeed it is a common sight in the skies along the East Coast of China during its spring and fall migrations. It is large buzzard that can be identified from below by its very broad and rounded wings. Other eastern buzzards have thinner wings and more square-shaped wings. This bird is a master of soaring and it is often seen to hover in one spot.

This species breeds in coniferous forests in the northeast provinces of the country and winters in the south central part of China from around Shanghai in the north down to Hainan, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Photo by Dick Daniels

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