What do buzzards eat

Richard Medley; Richard Southall

A note from Richard Medley

At 7.45am today Saturday 10 July, we looked out of the window just in time to see a buzzard swoop onto prey in adjoining field in Upper Colwall. It mantled over the prey which appeared to be struggling and which through binoculars turned out to be a young crow. The buzzard was having some difficulty subduing the crow and it was not long before a pair of magpies appeared to mob the buzzard. Shortly after our resident crow family arrived and set up a tremendous din and started to peck and buffet the buzzard who took no notice at all. In the next 5-6 minutes we were astonished by the number of crows which appeared: 10 perhaps 12 pairs, all of which were grouped around the buzzard while some attacked from the air. The buzzard stood its ground for some time - approx 20 minutes - and the crows eventually lost interest and flew away. The buzzard stayed on the ground until approx 8.30am when it lifted the dead crow and flew with some difficulty into nearby trees. We think that the victim was one of three fledglings reared this year but which appeared to then become out of favour with the adult birds who we watched actively feeding its siblings while it was ignored. However it had seemed to be managing well until this morning.

A note from Richard Southall

While I was doing some tractor work at Torton this afternoon, 14th October 2010, I saw a Buzzard swoop down and take a small rodent, which I had disturbed. The bird took the prey in one foot, without having to land. I thought this was quite a nifty manoeuvre for such a large bird. I have seen Buzzards take small rodents on several occasions while I was doing field work. The birds will perch nearby and watch for a meal, responding very quickly at times. Kestrels will also take this approach, particularly during ploughing operations.

Another note from Richard Medley

In Upper Colwall at midday yesterday (19th July 2010), I saw a large bird of prey flying past the window about 25yds away: for an instant I thought it was an escaped bird with jesses attached but then realised that it was a buzzard trailing a dead snake about 2ft long. I think it was a grass snake as it was too slender for an adder and the tail was too fine and pointed for a slow-worm.

So far this year the number of buzzards seen from the house and garden is well down on last year and seems to be confined to two pairs of locally based birds. A short distance to the west of the house is a slight ridge, from which the land drops steeply down to Brockhill Road in Colwall, and on a suitably warm day with a westerly wind, the up current of air forms thermals which attract many buzzards. Despite apparently ideal conditions, we have seen very few buzzards so far. In contrast raven numbers are increasing and we now see or hear them passing over head on a daily basis.