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Thread: Buzzards

  1. #1
    Moderator john robinson's Avatar
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    Nov 2007
    In the middle of Wyre forest, Worcestershire.

    Default Buzzards

    I had a report the other night at question time after a lecture I gave about Buzzards decimating a local lapwing population byb taking the chicks. Any one else heard of this sort of thing ? I know they have depleted the Adder population in the forest where I live >

  2. #2
    Member RaptorBirder's Avatar
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    Nov 2007


    Hi John and welcome to the Surfbirds Raptor Forum.

    Every time a raptor captures a specimen of live prey it effectively depletes that species' population - by one!

    Standard ecology theory suggests that it is in fact prey species that regulate raptor populations, not the other way around.

    Having said that, there are recorded (but apparently unusual) examples where 'rogue' raptors (eg. Kestrel at a Little Tern colony) can take a liking to a particular prey item to such an extent that it has had a negative impact on one breeding season's productivity at the local level.

    However, it seems rather unlikely that Common Buzzards could impose a similar impact on a local Lapwing population, for three reasons:

    a) Lapwings don't tend to breed very close together so it's hard to see that Buzzards would discover more than a very few nests;

    b) Lapwing chicks generally leave their nests shortly after hatching, they tend to remain at a discrete distance from their siblings and they are absolute masters of disguise, so even if a Buzzard did discover a Lapwing family I believe it would be unlikely to succeed in capturing all of the brood; and,

    c) Even if a Buzzard did get a taste for young Lapwing chicks and become proficient at finding them, the behaviour would only last a short time because it would become increasingly hard for the Buzzard to find them, at a time of year when other food options are likely to become more easily available very quickly.

    In my experience Common Buzzards are truly omnivorous opportunists - they will eat virtually anything they can from insects, invertebrates, reptiles, mammals (including carrion) and up to medium-sized birds, subject to availability, ease of capture and weather conditions.

    Ultimately I guess it depends on the number of pairs of Lapwings present but I believe that although someone may have observed a Common Buzzard catching one or two Lapwing chicks, other unseen predators (eg. Foxes) are likely to be the culprits if the Lapwing population has really been reduced significantly.

    Keep watching!
    Last edited by RaptorBirder; November 25th, 2007 at 09:57 PM.


    'Raptors - sentinels for our future on planet Earth'.

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