The Common Buzzard (Buteo Buteo) is one of the most visible of Britains raptors. This is mainly due to a strong national population and it's large size. On any cross country journey on a clear day you are likely to see them sitting idly on a fence post waiting for a meal to pass by, or soaring lazily in groups of two or more in the afternoon thermals.
In Scotland, because of their size, behavior and markings the Common Buzzard is often mistaken for juvenile Golden Eagles, especially when they are soaring.
Common Buzzards feed mainly on Rabbits but will take just about any small mammal, reptile and often carrion. The birds can occasionally be seen standing proudly on a piece of road kill defending it whilst they eat. Many smaller birds such as crows and Jacdaws see them as a threat and will harry them into moving from a particular tree or area by mobbing them repeatedly until they fly away.
Because of human persecution and the introduction of myxomatosis amongst the rabbit population in the 1950's, buzzards became very scarce, only residing over high ground in the areas such as Brecon in Wales and the Cairngorms in Scotland. As the few surviving rabbits re-produced and became more resistant to the Myxomatosis virus, their numbers increased and with it the population and distribution of buzzards and other birds of prey. Their numbers are thought to be as high as 60,000 pairs throughout the UK, making them the most prevalent of UK birds of prey.
Common Buzzards have a wingspan of 100-130cms, with the females weighing as much as 1.3 kilograms. Males tend to weigh less and as such are the more efficient hunters and fliers.
The female lays between 2 and 4 eggs, sharing the 33-35 day job of incubation with the male bird. The young leave the nest after a couple of months, becoming fully independant at around 5 months, and becoming active breeders after 2-3 years.
Buzzards are to be found throughout much of the UK but are still best found in hilly terrain in the West of the UK, especially in areas with barren open ground. Some good places include Dartmoor and the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire.