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ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

Grey-faced Buzzard? Central Japan (1 Viewer)

MacNara

Well-known member
Japan
Regular fans of mine will know that I'm pretty hopeless with raptors / falcons. So if the following is an obvious silly mistake, apologies in advance.

I took a walk at my usual spot in Nara City, central Japan, today, as we actually had some sunshine. I took some photos of this bird, just because, thinking it was a Goshawk (the most common raptor here). But when I looked at the photos, it was obvious that it isn't a Goshawk. Although the tail looks OK, the barring is too dark, and the head too small and there's no eyebrow visible, and there seems to be a strong gular stripe. So, is it a Grey-faced Buzzard?

This bird, which I have only seen a few times over many years, seems to have a lot of variation in its appearance. Some books stress a strong supercilium, but lots of photos show no supercilium at all. They are around in small numbers over the summer a few tens of kilometres from here though not that easy to see, and I've never seen one in or near this spot (though they fly over on migration).

The weather here has been weird this year, with about 40% of the usual rain in the last two months, but yesterday the weather changed. And as well as this bird - whatever it is, it is the first raptor / falcon seen for three months, except for the Kestrels which breed on the motorway pillars - there was an Osprey (common at this pond in winter) visible from the same spot at the same time, so it seems the birds realise the weather is changing also.

The alternative bird with a gular stripe where I am would be Japanese Sparrowhawk (very occasional on migration), but I think JS is too small to be mistaken for a Goshawk, even by me. It's a spot I have been to thousands of times, and just from knowing the trees around, I think I can judge roughly the height and therefore the size of a bird. Anyway, photo 5 shows the full view from my 300mm lens.

If someone can point me in the right direction, I'll be grateful.
 

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CARERY

Well-known member
I've no experience of juvenile Grey-faced, but adults and other Butastur I know have all longer wings than OP bird, and the photo you linked also show longer wings as well.

The shape of OP bird is more Accipiter-like.

Is there something I missed?

Also to me it looks more like a typical Sparrowhawk silhouette. I would vote for an immature Japanese Sparrowhawk. Though comparing pictures of both species in the web I was surprised how similar they are in plumage.
 

rockfowl

Mark Andrews
I've no experience of juvenile Grey-faced, but adults and other Butastur I know have all longer wings than OP bird, and the photo you linked also show longer wings as well.

The shape of OP bird is more Accipiter-like.

Is there something I missed?

No you didn't miss anything. Guilty of just looking on the mobile, looking at the plumage mainly on pic 4 and ignoring the structure by being too quick.
Apologies Mac, despite your feeling that it was big, that forearm just isn't long enough for a Butastur so an immature Japanese Sparrowhawk it is.
Yes, plumage wise they are very similar.
 

MacNara

Well-known member
Japan
Thanks, everybody. It really looked too big for a Japanese Sparrowhawk - which is basically the size of a pigeon. And the gular stripe looked just too strong and the brown on the face too extensive (coming down too far on the face). But I hardly ever see either of these birds, so....
 
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia
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