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Buzzards And Humans

Some people consider all hawks to be pests, believing that they eat game birds such as grouse and ducks, or that they kill song birds. For these reasons, buzzards and other hawks have been killed in large numbers in some regions. Fortunately, however, this is rarely the case today, and few people now seek to kill these predators.

To some degree, buzzards have also been detrimentally affected by the toxic effects of insecticide use in agriculture and forestry. However, these birds have been somewhat less damaged by pesticides than some other types of raptors, such as falcons and eagles.

In fact, because they eat large numbers of small mammals, which can cause serious agricultural damages, buzzards provide a useful service to humans.

Because of buzzards' large size and fierce demeanor, many bird-watchers avidly seek out quality sightings of individuals, which can represent a highlight of a day's field expedition.



Clark, W.S. and B.K. Wheeler. A Field Guide to the Hawks of North America. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1987.

Forshaw, Joseph. Encyclopedia of Birds. New York: Academic Press, 1998.

Freedman, B. Environmental Ecology. 2nd ed. San Diego: Academic Press, 1995.

Johnsgard, P. A. Hawks, Eagles, and Falcons of North America. Biology and Natural History. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Press, 1990.

Scholz, F. Birds of Prey. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1993.

Bill Freedman


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—Refers to animals that are mainly active in the daylight hours.


—A bird of prey. Raptors have feet adaptive for seizing, and a beak designed for tearing.


—A column of relatively warm, rising air that develops during sunny days. Thermals are essentially rising, convective currents in the lower atmosphere. Soaring and gliding birds commonly utilize thermals to achieve a relatively effortless locomotion.

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