Buzzard - not the largest bird of prey, but widespread. They can be seen very often in Russia, especially in the European part of the country. Exterminating rodents, buzzards do not allow them to breed excessively, and if there are few of these animals next to them, they switch to feeding on frogs, snakes, and other birds. Buzzards are very skillful hunters.
Origin of the species and description
The common buzzard, also known as the buzzard, has been known to people since ancient times, and its scientific description was carried out by Karl Linnaeus in 1758. It was named in Latin Buteo buteo, in addition to this species, the genus of true buzzards includes three dozen others.
Buzzards belong to the order of the hawk-like. According to the most widespread version, its first representatives appeared shortly after the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction, when a large number of ecological niches were vacated, including for flying predators.
Appearance and features
Photo: What a buzzard looks like
The buzzard is 50-58 cm long, and its wingspan is from 105 to 135 cm. There are three variants of bird color: brown with red and motley belly, brown with buffy on the belly, dark brown. Each of these types of coloration can be traced from youth to old age of the buzzard. Birds of the first type are most often found, the most rare are of the third. Sometimes buzzards are confused with wasp-eaters, which are very similar in color, you can confuse them with other species.
But there are a number of signs, finding a few of which you can unmistakably recognize a buzzard.:
- it has yellow legs, but much more it stands out with the color of its beak: at the very base it is yellow, then it becomes pale blue, and towards the end it darkens,
- the cornea of the eye of a young buzzard is brown with a reddish tinge, gradually becoming more and more gray. Young individuals are generally more variegated, over time the color becomes more monotonous,
- a sitting buzzard can be distinguished from another bird by its posture: it seems to be shrinking all over, and most importantly, it pulls one leg down. He is always ready to push off with it and start flying after prey: even while resting, he continues to look around the surroundings and look for something to profit from.
These are the main signs, but others should be briefly noted: the flying buzzard tightly presses the neck to the body, its tail is distinctly rounded and wide open, the wings are wide, they have light spots, the bird does not hold its wings on the line of the body, but slightly raises it In some individuals, a dark stripe running along the edge of the tail is clearly visible, but some do not.
Where does the buzzard live?
Photo: Buzzard in flight
They inhabit large areas, including:
- almost all of Europe, including the European part of Russia - there are none only in the north of Scandinavia,
- south of the Asian part of Russia,
- Asia Minor,
- Near East,
- most of Africa.
Less often than in the listed territories, the buzzard can be found in the countries of the Far East - China, Korea, Japan. Most of these birds are sedentary, and only representatives of the subspecies vulpinus, that is, small or steppe buzzards, fly south in autumn. They live in Russia, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, and fly to India and Africa for the winter.
Although some of them may not go so far for wintering, to the coastal areas near the Black and Caspian Seas: to those territories where it gets colder in winter, but there is no snow. The bird is moderately thermophilic and can successfully survive the relatively cold winters of Europe. In the European part of Russia, buzzards are distributed fairly evenly, they live mainly in areas where forests alternate with meadows and fields where it is convenient for them to hunt. They also love coniferous forests, especially those located in hilly areas.
In the Asian part of Russia and in the north of Kazakhstan, the forest-steppe zone was chosen.Often they choose places near water bodies for settlement, they can live on rocks, although they prefer trees. They love hilly terrain, but do not live in the highlands: the maximum height at which they settle does not exceed 2,000 m, usually within the range of 200-1,000 m.
Now you know where the buzzard bird lives. Let's see what she eats.
What does a buzzard eat?
Photo: Buzzard bird
The poultry menu is quite extensive, but it only includes animal food. it:
- mice and other rodents,
- small lizards,
- small birds and chicks,
The main food of the buzzard is rodents - mice and others, mainly small ones. He can be called a specialized predator, since his entire hunting manner is needed in order to most effectively catch rodents. But, if their number decreases and it becomes more difficult to find prey, then the bird has to switch to other species.
Often, in such cases, it begins to feed near reservoirs, where there are many small amphibians, you can also find worms and mollusks - there is a lot of food for the buzzard. Unlike fields and reservoirs, they do not hunt in the forest, which means that there are few forest animals in their menu. Usually, when there are enough rodents in the field, the buzzard does not pose a threat to other birds, but if there are few rodents, it can begin to feed on them: it catches small birds, eats chicks and eggs. If a hungry buzzard sees a bird of prey smaller than itself, flying with its prey, then it tries to take it away.
Buzzards are also dangerous for lizards and snakes, including they exterminate poisonous ones. But such a hunt is dangerous for them: although buzzards are more agile, there is a chance that the snake will be able to bite the bird. Then she dies from the poison, because she has no immunity to it. Although buzzards prefer to hunt, if there are few prey, they can eat carrion too. This bird has a high appetite: one individual can eat three dozen rodents per day, and annually destroys them in thousands. Thanks to this, they are very useful, because they harass a large number of pests like mice, moles, poisonous snakes. Young buzzards also kill harmful insects.
Interesting fact: Sarich is another name for buzzards, also used very often. Most likely it arose from the Türkic word "sary", translated as "yellow".
Features of character and lifestyle
Photo: Buzzard in Russia
The buzzard has excellent senses: it has very keen eyesight, good sense of smell and fine hearing. All this allows him to effectively hunt, and it is very difficult to get away from him. In addition, buzzards are also smart birds, this is especially noticeable when they are in captivity - they can surprise people with their ingenuity and cunning. Buzzards usually fly rather slowly, but they do it very quietly and are able to get close to their prey unnoticed. They rely mainly on surprise and a sharp throw. They can fly quite fast, but they are inferior to many other birds, including larger ones.
Their wings are much better suited to soar slowly in the air - for this they make almost no effort. They can fly like this for many hours in a row and all the time they examine the ground below, and when the buzzard sees a potential victim, it falls like a stone to the ground, folding its wings, and spreads them only when it is already at the very ground.
At the exit from this peak, it develops high speed, and most importantly, it turns out to be unexpected, which gives the bird the opportunity to reach the prey with its claws before it realizes what is happening. Although the buzzard usually shows great dexterity when hunting, sometimes it is overly carried away, does not notice obstacles and crashes into them. Buzzards can also sit on a tree for a long time, most often choosing a dry or one devoid of branches on one side for a better view, or on a pole and wait for prey. This is how they spend most of their day, and in the dark they rest.
Migrating individuals move to the south in large flocks from the last days of summer to the end of September, depending on the terrain, while usually all fly away at once, so that on one day many of them fly around the area, and on the other it immediately becomes empty. They return in the middle of spring, and fewer birds fly back: the young often stay in wintering places for several years. Buzzards live for a long time: 22-27 years, and in captivity up to 35.
Social structure and reproduction
Photo: Common Buzzard
The mating season begins immediately after arrival. Males try to show themselves by mating flights and arrange fights. When a couple is determined, she builds a nest or occupies an old one and simply builds on it. Sometimes these nests originally belonged to other birds altogether, most often crows. They prefer to build nests not in the depths of the forest, but near its edge, the tree can be either coniferous or deciduous. The nest is located in a fork in strong thick branches at a height of 7-15 meters. The buzzards try to make it equally difficult to spot both from the ground and from a height. Very rarely, the nest can be on a rock.
The diameter of the nest is 50-75 cm, it is small in height - 20-40 cm. The material for it are branches braided with dry grass - they are thick at the edge, and the closer to the center, the thinner. In the very middle there is a recess for chicks made of very thin twigs, but insulated with various materials: feathers, moss, down, bark. If before laying one of the partners in the pair dies, then it will certainly be replaced by another bird: after determining the pairs, there are still a few unmarried individuals of both sexes. Clutches are made before the end of spring and usually contain 3-5 eggs. Their shell is grayish with a slight green tinge, red or brown spots on it.
The average number of eggs in a clutch depends on the year: if the weather conditions are good and there are a lot of mice in the area, there will be more of them on average. In hungry years, there may be only one egg in a clutch, and in the worst years, most of the buzzards will not acquire offspring at all. The female is mainly engaged in incubation, this period lasts up to 5 weeks. At this time, the male also does not mess around, but feeds the female so that she can not fly anywhere from the nest. The bird on the clutch is not aggressive, tries to hide when strangers appear nearby, or emits alarming cries when flying around.
If during incubation she is often disturbed, she can leave the clutch and make a second one - usually there is only one egg in it. When chicks appear, they are covered with rather dark brownish down. At first, the male is engaged in obtaining food for them, and the female distributes it, so that everyone gets their share. When chicks change brown down to gray, both parents begin to get food - too much of it is needed. then they begin to simply throw food into the nest, and the chicks themselves divide it and often begin to fight with each other.
The more abundant the year, the more chicks survive. If he turned out to be malnourished, then most likely 1-2 individuals will survive until the flight. Young buzzards learn to fly at 6-7 weeks of life, and when they master flight well, they leave their parents and begin to hunt on their own - usually by the end of July. Late chicks can fly out until the first half of September, most often they come from the second clutch. Birds from one brood continue to keep together in the time remaining before the flight to the south, and migrate until mid-autumn. Some buzzards linger until November and may even stay for the winter.
Natural enemies of buzzards
Photo: Buzzard in winter
Catching a buzzard is a very difficult task due to its keen eyesight and hearing, and therefore even larger birds of prey do not hunt for it. But he cannot feel completely safe either: eagles, gyrfalcons, falcons can attack a gaping buzzard with prey, and everyone tries to take it away.
These birds are larger and stronger, so the buzzard can get serious wounds in a fight with them.But this happens infrequently, much more likely to conflict with another buzzard. They mainly occur during the mating season, but at other times they are also possible because of the territory - there is not always enough of it for everyone, and disadvantaged birds are forced to hunt in foreign lands.
In such fights, one or even both birds can be severely affected by the sharp claws and beak. The loser will be expelled, and the winner will take over or continue to own the territory. The losing bird does not have the opportunity to hunt and may die of wounds and hunger - after all, in order for the wounds to overgrow, it needs to eat more.
Even more damage to buzzards is caused by nest destroyers: both large birds like hawks and kites, and smaller ones - crows, magpies, love to feast on eggs and chicks, and weasels with weasels also like to feed on buzzards. But buzzards do not suffer from them as much damage as many other birds, since the female is very rarely weaned from the nest.
Among the enemies of the buzzard and man: for example, in the USSR they were considered pests and a reward was put for their extermination, therefore they were killed in thousands every year. In other countries, this was also practiced, and in some places they are still being killed uncontrollably.
But a greater number of birds have been suffering in recent years due to the chemical industry and the cultivation of land with poisons - for example, to kill insects. The accumulation of such poisons in the body of buzzards leads to their earlier death.
Population and status of the species
Photo: What a buzzard looks like
The total number of the species is high enough to be classified as non-threatening. In comparison with the situation in the first half of the last century, there has been a significant improvement. Then buzzards were exterminated en masse as pests, which led to a drop in their numbers in Europe and Russia at times.
Then it became clear that these "pests" perform a very important function, destroying rodents and other real pests. Although many other birds of prey are also engaged in this, buzzards are one of the most numerous and effective.
Due to a decrease in their number, the natural balance was disturbed and the number of rodents became excessive, therefore, in almost all European countries, hunting for buzzards was prohibited, after which their numbers began to recover.
The current European population is estimated at 1.5 million, making the buzzard one of the most abundant large birds of prey in Europe. Worldwide, according to various estimates, there can be from 4 to 10 million birds.
Interesting fact: According to one of the versions, the name of the bird - buzzard, happened due to the fact that it emits a plaintive cry, and is close to the word "moan". But there is another assumption: that it comes from the Old Slavic "Kanuti", which means "to fall", because this is how buzzards hunt. The verb "moan" in this version, on the contrary, comes from the name of the bird.
Fast and nimble buzzard able to give odds as a hunter to most other birds of prey. Having chosen the forest edges, the birds fly around the fields and meadows all day long, looking for rodents, and can catch 30-40 individuals per day, and during the feeding period there are much more chicks. Therefore, they are very useful for farmers, but they also force them to look after the chickens - they can also be carried away.
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Many birds of prey are listed in the Red Book, some of which are on the verge of extinction.
Almost all eagles, hawks, eagles, vultures and falcons are protected.
Of the latter, the honorable place in the book is occupied by the gyrfalcon - one of the most famous predators living along the Arctic Ocean. In the royal families, gyrfalcons were proud and valued at their weight in gold.
Many birds of prey have become rare due to a decrease in food supplies, which, first of all, is directly related to scavengers such as vultures or cougars.
Currently, the number of large animals, which have always been the basis of their food, is decreasing. A snow vulture, for example, weighing 12 kg, feeds exclusively on the carcasses of mountain ungulates that have died from avalanches. Yes, and the corpses of farm animals, a person prefers to bury or burn. All this leads to the fact that scavengers suffer from a lack of food.
But not only large birds suffered, but also small predators, such as the European tyvik, which has become a great rarity. This fast little hawk is an excellent hunter who preys on lizards, insects and small birds.
The osprey, which previously lived around the globe, where there were reservoirs with fish, became very rare. These birds of prey of the Red Book have always chosen tall trees (often with broken tops) for nesting, therefore, deforestation deprives the birds of their usual habitats, and tourists and fishermen cause them unnecessary anxiety. Now, especially for these predators, they build high supports for the nest and prohibit hunting and fishing near their places of settlement.
It is sad that among all the birds listed in the Red Book, birds of prey take the lead in quantity.
More recently, hundreds of them were exterminated, and hunters were given rewards for trophies. Fortunately, humanity came to its senses in time and took rare birds of prey under its protection.
Osprey is an amazing bird that is a pleasure to watch. Graceful in flight, proud and bright with plumage, it has long attracted the attention of people. Osprey was the name for birds of prey and people with a harsh disposition (princes Fyodor Skopin and Skopin-Shuisky). There is also the city of Skopin on the territory of our country. Despite the small size of the city, in ancient times it was very well protected by fortifications and watchtowers, and its armament was at the level of large cities. Skopin's flag and coat of arms are still decorated with the image of a flying osprey.
She is not afraid to dive, although this threatens her with death. She can shake off the plumage from the water, like a dog, twisting movements of the body and wings right on the fly. She eats nothing but fish. Her image is on the flag and coat of arms of the city. She is a very caring parent who does not leave her chicks for two months.
The common snake-eagle, the snake-eagle, or crab, is a bird of prey of the hawk family, the falcon order.
This is a very rare endangered bird species listed in the Red Book of Russia.
The snake is a well-established image, denoting, as a rule, a predator.
And the concept of a snake-victim is unusual. However, there are those who like to eat snakes (even poisonous ones!) In nature. And among the feathered predators, snake eaters are the real professionals in catching unsafe prey.
The white-tailed eagle is a large bird of prey of the hawk family, the body length of which can reach a meter, and the weight - from three to seven kilograms.
Most of the massive body of the white-tailed eagle is colored brown, and only the tail is white - this feature became the basis for the name of the species. The eagle inhabits almost the entire territory of the Eurasian continent.In Central Europe, this bird can be found very rarely, and humans played a significant role in this. Some individuals, especially young animals, spend the winter in Pakistan, China and North Africa. The white-tailed eagle settles more often near water bodies. Nest is built higher from the ground, mainly in trees, sometimes on rocks. Since the white-tailed eagle prefers to live near water bodies, its menu is mainly fishy. It hunts flying over the surface of the reservoir, and as soon as it notices a fish, it rapidly sinks down and may even plunge into the water for a short time in order to dig into the prey with its strong claws.
He is also not averse to feasting on other birds. The tactics of his hunt are as follows: the predator flies over the waterfowl, as a result of which they dive under the water in an attempt to avoid the tenacious claws. But when the air supply comes to an end, the prey emerges, and here the predator will not miss.
The most energetic of the eagles
The golden eagle is a large bird with long and relatively narrow wings, a slightly rounded tail, feathers on the back of the head are narrow and pointed, paws are very powerful, with strong claws and a tarsus feathered up to the toes. The dimensions of the golden eagle are as follows: total length 80-95 cm, wing length 60-72.5 cm, weight 3-6.5 kg. The female golden eagle is noticeably larger than the males. Both floors are painted the same. Adult golden eagles (four years old and older) are dark brown in color, on the ventral side, in the plumage of the lower leg and undertail - a greater or lesser admixture of reddish-golden color, the nape and back of the neck are reddish, the primary flight feathers are black-brown with grayish bases, tail feathers - dark gray with dark brown markings and a black pre-apical stripe. The iris is nut-brown, the beak is bluish-brown, the claws are black, the waxen and legs are bright yellow. In the first annual plumage, young golden eagles are dark brown with white feather bases and whitish plumage of the tarsus; tail eagles are white with a wide black apical stripe.
The golden eagle is the most energetic of the eagles, so relatively large game becomes its prey.
It was not in vain that the high-speed train was named after this bird. Peregrine Falcon is a large falcon. The constitution of this bird is dense and strong, the plumage is rigid and tight, wide chest, forearms. All muscles are well developed. The posture is majestic. The length of the bird is 40-50 cm. Various color. Dark to black above and light streaked below. On the chest there are teardrop-shaped streaks. Black mustache and brows. The beak is black at the top, brightens to brown towards the base, sickle-curved, short. The external openings of the nostrils open at the site of the wax. In young individuals the wax is gray, in adults it is yellow.
When falling from above, the falcon develops maximum speed. This is achieved due to the special structure of the nasal septum, which allows him not to suffocate from the flow of the headwind. In its beak, there are several partitions that slow down the movement of air to the lungs. Due to this, the fast headwind does not at all interfere with the breathing of the peregrine falcon in flight.
Gyrfalcon - heavenly commander
Gyrfalcon is the largest of the Russian falcons. Its weight reaches two kilograms, and its wingspan is up to 135 centimeters. Long sharp wings allow the bird to make strong, sharp flapping in flight, and it rushes forward, not stopping for a second, and sharp eyesight helps to see prey at a distance of a kilometer. The flight of the gyrfalcon is continuous dynamics, movement, speed. Attacking the victim, the bird dives sharply, developing a tremendous speed - 100 meters per second. A strong and slightly oblique blow cuts through the feather and skin of the victim like sharpened knives.
Gyrfalcon loves open spaces. Like a commander, he must choose a point from which everything and everyone can be seen around, where everything depends on your decision. Each pair of falcons settles no closer than 25 kilometers from the other.
Gyrfalcon is an ancient bird. The most ancient princely family can envy its history. Already in the XI century, the Kiev prince Oleg built a falcon yard on his courtyard.Gyrfalcons are mentioned in the "Lay of Igor's Campaign" and in the first set of Russian laws "Russian Truth". During the years of the Tatar-Mongol yoke, falcons, mainly gyrfalcons, were included in the tribute as one of the most valuable things.
Gyrfalcon, like most predators, is an orderly in the forest and steppe. And, probably, he is the object of aesthetic, emotional admiration.
Dear hunters! Remember that not every bird is game. Take a look at these legendary and proud birds and lower your guns, appreciate the beauty of their flight. After all, it is about them that I want to say: "Don't shoot!" It depends only on you and me whether the birds of happiness of the Vladimir region will fly in our forests. Tatiana Goryanina, Vladimirskie vedomosti
Earlier on the topic Birds of Prey:
From 10 to 13 September 2014, the 12th International Exhibition of Hunting and Equestrian Sports ADIHEX (Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition) was held in Abu Dhabi at the National Exhibition Center, which was held under.
The first international festival "Berkut - Wings of the Chui Steppe" was held in the high-mountainous Kosh-Agach region of the Altai Republic. The strongest masters of hunting with golden eagles (berkutchi) took part in it. Program.