Most of this year’s young will be fledging now, so there will be more Buzzards around Otley now than any other time of the year. The young will eventually be pushed out of their parent’s territory and have to find their own. It is thought that the buzzard is now our commonest bird of prey, pushing the kestrel into second place.
Buzzards are monogamous and once paired will mate for life. A male attracts a mate, or impresses his existing one by performing spectacular aerial displays often called ‘roller coasters’.
The bird flies high in the sky, then turns and plunges down, twisting and turning in a spiral, to rise again immediately and repeat the display. From March to May, a breeding pair construct their nest in a big tree on a branch or fork, the nest is a bulky platform made of sticks and decorating it with fresh green foliage, where the female lays two to four eggs.
Buzzards will eat a wide range of food, principally small mammals but also birds, reptiles, amphibians and earthworms! Whilst they are impressive high fliers, their favourite hunting technique is to perch on bench posts, dead tree, rocks etc and scanning surroundings, then sweeping directly onto its located prey. In fact they spend so much time quietly sitting around, if you spot a large bird perched on a telegraph or fence posts it is very likely to be a Buzzard.
Whilst the Buzzard is our most common bird of prey now, this hasn’t always been the case. Persecution by gamekeepers and the use of pesticides meant the species had disappeared from most of the country by the mid-20th century. In Scotland, the buzzard is sometimes called the ‘tourist eagle’ due to visitors mistaking it for the larger bird. Before you see them, you are likely to first hear their iconic call, often described as a cat-like ‘’meow” or “kee-yaaa.” Their call is so impressive is it often played on TV when filming an eagle, as the eagle call is much more subtle.