• BirdForum is the net's largest birding community dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE!

    Register for an account to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

Just another buzzard? Knoydart, UK (1 Viewer)

Deb Burhinus

Used to be well known! 😎
Europe
fwiw, a nice drawing by Jörn Lehmhus of a red-tailed individual discussed 14 years ago (unfortunately most links don't work, but the drawing in post 5 works ;) ): https://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=66546&highlight=vulpinus


That is indeed a very very bright red tail! The OP looks more like the colour of the tail in the first link in my previous post imo (I doubt whether much fine barring would show at this resolution but it seems possible to pick out a bit of barring
 
Last edited:

Joern Lehmhus

Well-known member
Very interesting this,

I can confirm that there are common bussards with very reddish tail in western Europe; I have see a few by myself over the years now.

The bird Lou mentions, which I saw 14 years ago, was different however, in brightness and uniformity of tail coloration it was somewhat extreme (without visible barring except partial terminal band).

5 years ago, I saw by chance a note in a paper with a photo of a lost or stolen falconers bird, which reminded me quite a lot of my bird.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/23165851682/in/album-72157602145597586/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/22787475659/in/album-72157602145597586/

I contacted the owner, who said his bird was a cross Buteo jamaicensis x Buteo hemilasius. I got the address of the breeder who confirmed the cross and had also bred some more as falconry birds.

There are already several Buteo hybrids known (even between wild birds; and baccrosses and three species hybrids also), though they are in most cases not common in the wild or in falconry (not like hybrid falcons in falconry) . So seeing a Buteo hybrid would be a very rare event, but concerning a very few odd looking individuals it may be possible.
one would need a more detailed photographic record to judge this - and I think in the majority of cases of odd bussards it would be just an unusual common bussard.
 

Deb Burhinus

Used to be well known! 😎
Europe
Great field sketch btw Joern - I had already seen that online before Lou posted the link so it’s out there as soon as you google Red-tail Hawk x Common Buzzard! As far as ‘pure’ Common Buzzard variation, given the possibilities of Buteo hybridisation and seemingly an unlimited potential for intergrades in contact zones between different taxa of the genus, one wonders whether there’s an evolutionary process at work or, as is likely more often the case, these ‘odd’ individuals are explained by unusual genetic anomalies in the phenotypes.
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
Great field sketch btw Joern - I had already seen that online before Lou posted the link so it’s out there as soon as you google Red-tail Hawk x Common Buzzard! As far as ‘pure’ Common Buzzard variation, given the possibilities of Buteo hybridisation and seemingly an unlimited potential for intergrades in contact zones between different taxa of the genus, one wonders whether there’s an evolutionary process at work or, as is likely more often the case, these ‘odd’ individuals are explained by unusual genetic anomalies in the phenotypes.

This is exactly what Dick Forsman told me when I sent him shots of a reddish tailed Buzzard from Russia.
 

lou salomon

the birdonist
Great field sketch btw Joern - I had already seen that online before Lou posted the link so it’s out there as soon as you google Red-tail Hawk x Common Buzzard! As far as ‘pure’ Common Buzzard variation, given the possibilities of Buteo hybridisation and seemingly an unlimited potential for intergrades in contact zones between different taxa of the genus, one wonders whether there’s an evolutionary process at work or, as is likely more often the case, these ‘odd’ individuals are explained by unusual genetic anomalies in the phenotypes.

i would favour the latter (genetic anomalities, while i'd prefer to call it variants, maybe similar to the modesta-type nominate Ardea alba occuring in Europe). I use to bird a lot in a so called introgression zone between buteo and vulpinus, eastern romania. but still i don't see often common buzzards with red tails over there, neither are they common in finland. Red tailed buzzards in eastern Europe usually are migrants of clear fox type pure looking steppe buzzards.
 

stevethehydra

Well-known member
Very interesting this,

I can confirm that there are common bussards with very reddish tail in western Europe; I have see a few by myself over the years now.

The bird Lou mentions, which I saw 14 years ago, was different however, in brightness and uniformity of tail coloration it was somewhat extreme (without visible barring except partial terminal band).

5 years ago, I saw by chance a note in a paper with a photo of a lost or stolen falconers bird, which reminded me quite a lot of my bird.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/23165851682/in/album-72157602145597586/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/22787475659/in/album-72157602145597586/

I contacted the owner, who said his bird was a cross Buteo jamaicensis x Buteo hemilasius. I got the address of the breeder who confirmed the cross and had also bred some more as falconry birds.

There are already several Buteo hybrids known (even between wild birds; and baccrosses and three species hybrids also), though they are in most cases not common in the wild or in falconry (not like hybrid falcons in falconry) . So seeing a Buteo hybrid would be a very rare event, but concerning a very few odd looking individuals it may be possible.
one would need a more detailed photographic record to judge this - and I think in the majority of cases of odd bussards it would be just an unusual common bussard.

The situation I was imagining was a Red-tailed Hawk escaping and breeding with wild Common Buzzard, with the hybrids being wild-born. This has been documented to happen in the UK with Harris Hawks, which are much more distantly related to Common Buzzards (not usually included in the genus Buteo; I'd imagine the hybrids are infertile). I could easily imagine that B. buteo x B. jamaicensis hybrids are fertile and would back-cross into the B. buteo population, with genes for red tails perhaps persisting for many generations.
 

Joern Lehmhus

Well-known member
Here is something on ferruginous x redtail hybrids , with one such hybrid apparently breeding successfully with a redtailed hawk ( though no dna samples were taken).
file:///C:/Users/CHRIST~1/AppData/Local/Temp/rapt-53-02-198-201.pdf

Here are birds that are supposed to be hybrids Longlegged x Common bussard
https://birds.kz/v2taxgal.php?s=1327&l=en&p=0


Here is a hybridisation event between Buteo buteo and roughlegged bussard Buteo lagopus
file:///C:/Users/CHRIST~1/AppData/Local/Temp/HybridisationbetweenCommonBuzzardButeobuteoandRough-leggedBuzzardB.lagopusinNorway.pdf

so there are quite some buteo hybrids; and an odd Common bussard showing traits fitting to other species should be worth closer inspection ...
But as you all said even western Buteo buteo is extremely variable and can show many different plumages (redtailed western birds for example)

so i do not think in this and other such cases we can accept the bird in question as a steppe bussard.
(Though generally unlikely, we should nevertheless be aware of the hybrid possibility Steve mentions, as redtailed hawks are not that unusual as falconers birds)
 
Last edited:

Deb Burhinus

Used to be well known! 😎
Europe
...

so there are quite some buteo hybrids; and an odd Common bussard showing traits fitting to other species should be worth closer inspection ...
But as you all said even western Buteo buteo is extremely variable and can show many different plumages (redtailed western birds for example)

so i do not think in this and other such cases we can accept the bird in question as a steppe bussard.
(Though generally unlikely, we should nevertheless be aware of the hybrid possibility Steve mentions, as redtailed hawks are not that unusual as falconers birds)

Similarly unresolved discussions on an old BF thread that popped up when doing a search for documented RTH x CB
https://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=5908&highlight=red+tailed+hawk+britain&page=3
 

Joern Lehmhus

Well-known member
Similarly unresolved discussions on an old BF thread that popped up when doing a search for documented RTH x CB
https://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=5908&highlight=red+tailed+hawk+britain&page=3

Odd looking bird indeed; and that thread gives at least a year and a place for a hybrid redtail x common:
"...In Cambs in 2003 a female Buzzard paired with a male Red-tailed Hawk, raising 2 hybrid young (See Cambs Bird Report 77: pg. 46 & 138)..."

I assume there was no description and follow up of the hybrids development....
 

Deb Burhinus

Used to be well known! 😎
Europe
I assume there was no description and follow up of the hybrids development....

The (ex) County Recorder might know - I don’t have access to the Cambs bird reports but they would be worth looking at.

There was this possible sighting in 2008

https://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=125136

and Norfolk has a few ‘odd” buteos breeding in the County (but that’s ‘normal for Norfolk’ of course ;))
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top