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Species Of Buzzards, Buzzards And Humans

The true buzzards are diurnal birds of prey in the genus Buteo, sub-family Buteonidae, family Accipitridae. In North America, buzzards are also commonly known as hawks, although other genera in the family Accipitridae are also given this common name, for example, the Accipiter hawks. There are 25 species of buzzards.

Buzzards are in the order Falconiformes, which also includes other types of hawks, eagles, osprey, falcons, and vultures. All of these birds have strong, grasping (or raptorial) talons, a hooked beak, extremely good vision, and a fierce demeanor. However, buzzards can be distinguished by their relatively large size, wide, rounded tail, broad wings, and their soaring flight. The usual color of the feathers is a barred pattern of browns and black, with some buff or red. The sexes are colored similarly, but females are substantially larger than males.

Buzzards occur on all of the continents, except for Antarctica. However, most species of buzzards occur in the Americas. Buzzards are most common seen in relatively open habitats, such as prairies, savannas, and forest edges.

Buzzards are mostly predators of small mammals, rabbits and hares, and to a lesser degree, snakes, lizards, birds, and larger insects, such as grasshoppers. Buzzards commonly soar in huge circles at great heights, looking for prey in the open, using their extremely acute vision. If prey is seen, an attempt may be made to catch it by undertaking a steep dive, known as a stoop. Some species also hunt regularly from perches in trees or on posts. The prey is generally killed by the powerful, sharp-clawed, grasping talons of these birds.

Migrating buzzards also soar during their long-distance movements, utilizing the lift obtained from high thermals during sunny days to achieve a relatively effortless flight. Some species migrate in large groups, and occasionally thousands of individuals can be seen at one time. These birds seem to fill the sky as they soar to great heights on one thermal and then glide slowly to pick up the next thermal along their path of travel, using the presence of other birds to identify the otherwise invisible habitat of rising, warm air.

Buzzards defend a territory during their breeding season. The territory is proclaimed by aerial displays and by loud, harsh screams. Buzzards nest in trees. Often the nest was built by another species, such as crows or ravens, and is then appropriated by the buzzard. However, buzzards will also build their own nests. The same pair may continue to utilize a nest for several seasons.

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