Which is Britain's most common and most widespread bird of prey?
Of all of Britain’s birds of prey the buzzard is the most common and most widespread, having experienced a remarkable comeback from the brink. Buzzards soar on thermals above countryside, motorways and everywhere in between – look out for their long, broad, eagle-like wings with primary feathers that stick out like fingers, and a short fan-like tail. They often make a lovely ‘mewing’ call as they glide. You may also see buzzards perched on fence posts or even hopping along the ground on the hunt for earthworms.
The common buzzard is a medium-sized raptor that is highly variable in plumage. Most buzzards are distinctly round headed with a somewhat slender bill, relatively long wings that either reach or fall slightly short of the tail tip when perched, a fairly short tail, and somewhat short and mainly bare tarsi. They can appear fairly compact in overall appearance but may also appear large relative to other commoner raptorial birds such as kestrels and sparrowhawks.
The common buzzard measures between 40 and 58 cm (16 and 23 in) in length with a 109–140 cm (43–55 in) wingspan. Females average about 2–7% larger than males linearly and weigh about 15% more. Body mass can show considerable variation. Buzzards from Great Britain alone can vary from 427 to 1,183 g (0.941 to 2.608 lb) in males, while females there can range from 486 to 1,370 g (1.071 to 3.020 lb).