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Old Friday 13th May 2011, 00:05   #1
ArbroathBirder
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Do Buzzards eat game birds?

Buzzards are plentiful in the UK and rightfully so. A magnificent bird.

A user of another forum I am on argues that they prey on game birds etc and have an impact on that dreadful business of shooting grouse etc.

Is there any evidence for this?
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Old Friday 13th May 2011, 00:38   #2
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From the Horses mouth(British Association of Shooting and Conservation)

http://www.snh.gov.uk/docs/A253112.pdf

From the link above

", a study designed to assess levels of game bird predation by raptors
in general were found to be on average of the order of 1-2%, and exceptionally 5%
[/b](BASC)."

Compared to predation by foxes, corvids, mink etc. raptor predation of gamebirds is pretty insignficant to say the least!!.


PS: What really annoys me about the ignorant hysteria against raptors is that the empty heads who claim raptors are the source of all evil never give them any credit for the huge numbers of vermin in the form of corvids, rodents etc. they remove naturally from the countryside every year!!

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Old Friday 13th May 2011, 08:22   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArbroathBirder View Post
Buzzards are plentiful in the UK and rightfully so. A magnificent bird.

A user of another forum I am on argues that they prey on game birds etc and have an impact on that dreadful business of shooting grouse etc.

Is there any evidence for this?
Individual birds certainly do prey on pheasants (both adults and poults), to my certain first-hand knowledge. They are a very adaptable, species and will take whatever is there. That's quite a different thing from saying thay have a major impact though.
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Old Friday 13th May 2011, 11:36   #4
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The simple answer is yes, wether that means anything should be done about it is of course a very different matter.
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Old Friday 13th May 2011, 21:18   #5
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So what!!

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The simple answer is yes, wether that means anything should be done about it is of course a very different matter.
Going on the figures in my link above, more pheasants are probably killed by traffic!! - indeed a large cock cracked my windscreen a few years back:(. Guess I'll have to employ a taster for my next steak sandwich in case the chef is a part-time gamekeeper
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Old Friday 13th May 2011, 21:38   #6
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Going on the figures in my link above, more pheasants are probably killed by traffic!!
Like i said the answer to the question is yes but that doesnt mean its a problem tha needs dealing with but the simple truth is it happens.

I've no doubt at all that more will be killed on the roads in fact i wouldnt be suprised if there's more killed on the roads than there are shot it must certainly run into millions of birds.
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Old Friday 13th May 2011, 22:13   #7
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do Buzzards hunt male Pheasants?
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Old Saturday 14th May 2011, 08:11   #8
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To be honest an adult pheasant is a big prey item for a buzzard to kill, I don't doubt that it can happen but we have a pheasant shoot locally, from the corpses I have found the feathers have been chewed rather than plucked suggesting a mammal rather than a bird of prey.

Of course we have many rabbits so young rabbits seem to be a favourite prey for the buzzards.

Pellets don't give much away either as they seem to be mainly tightly packed fur with few small bones, which doesn't prove that they actually killed the prey item.

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Old Saturday 14th May 2011, 08:14   #9
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do Buzzards hunt male Pheasants?
Yes
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Old Saturday 14th May 2011, 09:38   #10
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I have spent the past 15 years working with buzzards and have seen my county ( Norfolk ) population swell from a couple of breeding pairs to the position today where the majority of disturbance free woodlands in the county hold breeding buzzards. After 1000s of hours of observations I have never seen a common buzzard kill or carrying a gamebird. I have seen them feeding on pheasant road kills and twice on pheasants I presumed were dead or wounded following a pheasant drive. Finding a buzzard on a game bird kill does not mean the buzzard killed the bird. Buzzards regularly carry 3\4 grown rabbits so are capable of carrying a hen pheasant yet I have never seen one doing so.

Indeed its unusual to see them killing any bird in Norfolk. I have five records of them hunting birds killing , a half grown coot , a moorhen , a failed attempt at catching a blackbird and one pair that speclised in hunting corvids and left 24 crow\rook\jay wings under their nest. However this last record was in a very dry spring when a number of weak rooks\crows were noted , unable to feed on soil invertebrates.

Having said that I would not be surprised for an opportunist such the common buzzard to take advantage of game bird chicks if the chance arose or possibly small poults freshly released from a game farm when they are rather stupid to say the least. I talk to a number of local gamekeepers ( many are close friends I shoot with ) and all bar one old timer ( who hates any raptor ) have no worries about buzzards. Indeed some put out rabbit guts for the buzzards in winter.

Physically buzzards are not adapted for bird hunting. The leg structure is nothing like bird hunting hawks such as harriers or sparrowhawks.
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Old Saturday 14th May 2011, 09:50   #11
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Do Common Buzzards kill gamebirds? - Well I suppose they do occasionally and like all predators when they do they are most likely to find the sick or diseased individuals or the old and non-productive. This natural way keeps disease out of the populations and increases their vitality - keeping them fit as they are always on alert for predators.

If I was a gamebird shooter predators would be my friends!

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Old Saturday 14th May 2011, 12:55   #12
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and the young, which is often the main problem.

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Do Common Buzzards kill gamebirds? - Well I suppose they do occasionally and like all predators when they do they are most likely to find the sick or diseased individuals or the old and non-productive.

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Old Saturday 14th May 2011, 13:03   #13
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and the young, which is often the main problem.
Yes but this "problem" shouldn't concern shooters as it has been going on for "ever" - before man stepped on the earth. Since shotguns were invented man seems to have invented new rules.

Here in the Iberian peninsula what really hits you in the face travelling around, which I have done so for the last 30 yrs, is that when you come across very high Rabbit and RL Partridge abundance raptors are also at high density and diversity. In areas with little prey there are few raptors.
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Old Saturday 14th May 2011, 18:53   #14
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and the young, which is often the main problem.
Isn' the purpose of release pens to protect these birds till semi-adult which is the procedure on most of the shooting estates I've been on??
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Old Saturday 14th May 2011, 22:31   #15
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Isn' the purpose of release pens to protect these birds till semi-adult which is the procedure on most of the shooting estates I've been on??
Yes, but mainly from foxes. They are open at the top so that the pheasant poults can fly up into the trees and start radiating out. In the meantime, you have hundreds of young inexperienced birds running about like chickens inside the fence - is it any wonder that individual buzzards (and sparrowhawks) target the release pens? They must think that all their birthdays and Christmases have come at once.
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Old Saturday 14th May 2011, 23:12   #16
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Have you ever seen newly released poults? They have no chance against raptors, as Apodemus states, it is something of a feeding frenzy.

Trust me, if you believe "most likely to find the sick or diseased individuals or the old and non-productive." I suggest you spend some time in the field.

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Isn' the purpose of release pens to protect these birds till semi-adult which is the procedure on most of the shooting estates I've been on??
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Old Saturday 14th May 2011, 23:18   #17
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Hi
From what I know, buzzards do eat gamebirds, but hardly enough for them to be killed about it. They take far more mammals such as rabbits than birds.

On a slightly irrelevant note, two days ago I saw a buzzard carrying a swift. Never knew they were that agile.
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Old Saturday 14th May 2011, 23:24   #18
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Have you ever seen newly released poults? They have no chance against raptors, as Apodemus states, it is something of a feeding frenzy.

Trust me, if you believe "most likely to find the sick or diseased individuals or the old and non-productive." I suggest you spend some time in the field.
If you are worried about new poults being taken by wild predators then protect them by spending some money on a chicken wire roof.

I 'll try and up my time in the field from 200 days per year to 250 - I could do with the extra cash.
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Old Saturday 14th May 2011, 23:36   #19
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Hi
From what I know, buzzards do eat gamebirds, but hardly enough for them to be killed about it.
I know your statement was not meant to be interpreted literally but as far as I am concerned Common Buzzards could eat all captive bred gamebirds without any need to be killed whatsoever.
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Old Sunday 15th May 2011, 01:03   #20
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indeed a large cock cracked my windscreen a few years back...
Sorry, I just couldn't read anymore of the thread after that.....
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Old Sunday 15th May 2011, 09:34   #21
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Sorry, I just couldn't read anymore of the thread after that.....
I resisted the temptation to make the same comment through risk of being accused of being childish but its good to know it wasnt just me.
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Old Sunday 15th May 2011, 12:46   #22
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I resisted the temptation to make the same comment through risk of being accused of being childish but its good to know it wasnt just me.
Me too, I only hope it wasn't a Freudian slip.
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Old Sunday 15th May 2011, 12:49   #23
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Sorry, I just couldn't read anymore of the thread after that.....
I think I would have found that quite alarming too.
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Old Sunday 15th May 2011, 12:53   #24
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If I was a buzzard faced with this would I go and look for the old, sick and non-productive birds...
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Old Sunday 15th May 2011, 16:36   #25
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If I was a buzzard faced with this would I go and look for the old, sick and non-productive birds...
Providing cover in the pens can reduce the number lost dramatically
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