NATURE TABLE: Common buzzard

Buzzards are large birds of prey, not unlike miniature eagles, with which they are sometimes confused. Their plumage varies in pattern and hue but is predominantly brown. They have a habit of soaring on thermal currents and often give a cat-like, mewing call while doing this.

They became extinct in Ireland 120 to 130 years ago as a result of persecution by farmers and gamekeepers but they have re-introduced themselves, without human help, in the last 40 or 50 years. The initial colonisation seems to have been from Scotland into Northern Ireland and Donegal, followed by a second wave from Wales into Wicklow.

They are now widespread in all counties. They are mainly predators of small to medium-sized mammals with a strong liking for rabbits but they will take birds on the ground and even feed on earthworms or carrion from time to time. If they spot prey while soaring they fall on it in a clumsy dive. They also hunt from tall perches such as trees or telephone posts.


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Frits Potgieter is General Manager with Muckross Park Hotel and Spa.You've Been Served: Frits Potgieter, Muckross Park Hotel and Spa

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