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Buzzard a bird of prey and raptor

Buzzard are raptors at the top of the food chain

Buzzards are ‘birds of prey’ and belong to the family of birds known as 'raptors' ; usually have sharp hooked bills and sharp talons.  They hunt their prey on the wing and feed mainly on vertebrates ranging from other small birds to much larger animals like lambs.  The females are usually larger than the males.  Although magnificent birds some are considered by some land owners, farmers and game keepers to be pests and are killed although it is strictly against the law to harm them.

Their talons and bills are extremely sharp and designed to tear their prey apart.  They have eyesite which has far superior resolution to that of humans and can spot the movement of a small animal from hundreds of feet (many metres) in the air.  Some can also see in other spectrums of light that we cannot, for example to a Kestrel can see the urine trails of small rodents in the ultra-violet spectrum making them easily visible to the bird.

Some raptors like the Buzzard are becoming more widespread across the country.  Where I live in Rotherham in south Yorkshire we never say a buzzard in the sky until a couple of years ago but now (2011) they are seen circling over my wildlife garden quite often. The kind of raptor you are most likely to see in your wildlife garden is a sparrowhawk.  The sparrowhawk feeds mainly on small birds like blue tits and blackbirds but they will quite often take down a coloured dove.  The local sparrowhawk will know where the gardens are where birds are fed because that will be an easy hunting ground and it is both a sad but exiting experience to see one of these raptors plucking a bird on your lawn. A sure sign that a bird has fallen victim to a sparrowhawk is a pile of feathers.

Kestrels, perhaps the most common raptor are unlikely to visit your wildlife garden unless it is quite big as they are not as bold as the sparrowhawk.  They are most commonly seen hovering above the grass verge along the side of roads and motorways waiting for a small mammal to be disturbed by the noise of a passing vehicle.

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