What do Buzzards Eat?

Dear Harry

In response to your request in the November 1999 issue of Worcestershire Record asking for information regarding feeding habits of Common Buzzard, I have two records which may be of interest.

The first involved a bird carrying a grey squirrel to a perch from a roadside at Shrawley. The squirrel was almost certainly a fresh road casualty (being observed dead earlier). I did not witness the bird actually feeding, it merely stopped to re-adjust its grip before flying to a nearby wood.

The second bird was observed foraging amongst horse dung in a roadside field at Holt. I watched for several minutes as it shuffled in rather ungainly fashion , making stabbing attempts at the dung, before being mobbed by jackdaws who were feeding nearby. I hope these two records are a help, do let me know if you get any other records.

I did observe an amazing sight involving buzzards last June (1999) while travelling home form work again through Shrawley (where there is a good breeding population). Two birds, both adults, sat splayed in the middle of the road ahead. Having stopped the car just feet from them I got out to have a closer look, thinking they had been hit by a passing car. The birds were sitting opposite each other, glaring at one another, and totally unaware of me. I then noticed they were firmly locked by their talons, and clapped my hands, at which, after some more struggling, they managed to free themselves. This behaviour has been noted before (eg Brown L 1976 British Birds of Prey, Collins New Naturalist) where there is a report of an unfortunate farmer who had two talon-locked birds fall on top of him from a height!

It is thought that the younger males disputing territory (the Shrawley area is heavily populated) having locked talons in aerial display are unable to free themselves.

Shaun Micklewright

(I should still like to receive any reports of buzzards actually eating as requested in may note in Worcestershire Record No 7 page 14. Harry Green - see address at beginning of this issue).

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