Do Buzzards Eat Pigeons?


The answer is, ‘Yes they do.’ It seems that buzzards will eat almost anything, including any pigeon that comes along.

Buzzards are raptors.

They aren’t particularly fussy about where their food comes from.

They are more famed for eating small mammals than anything else, but they also eat birds.

The common buzzard specializes in hunting other birds.  

They seem to like crows, woodpeckers and pigeons, but that isn’t the limit of the list.  

What Are Buzzards?

Buzzards are a type of hawk.

In some regions of the world they are called hawks instead of buzzards.

A popular misconception is to confuse them with vultures.

buzzard

The difference is that vultures are scavengers and eat carrion. In other words, anything that is already dead.

Buzzards, on the other hand, are hunters.

They hunt live prey.  

Although in most regions the names are separate, in North America they seem to be interchangeable.

Sometimes the only way to distinguish between the two is to use their scientific names.

There are 26 species that are considered true buzzards, but there are also quite a lot of sub-species too.

General Facts about Buzzards

  • They can be found all over the world except Antarctica
  • They are the most common type of day time raptor in Europe
  • Some buzzards whose habitat is in the Northern Hemisphere migrate for the winter
  • Some travel as far as South Africa
  • Others are all year round residents of their habitats
  • The global population number in the millions
  • They are tree dwellers
  • Buzzards seem resilient to modern pollution and are thriving

Food Sources

These predatory birds will rob eggs of other birds and reptiles, plus eat the birds and the reptiles themselves.

They are known to eat insects like caterpillars, beetles and even ants.

Going up the size scale, they will eat voles and other small rodents, also larger birds such as grouse and even rabbits.

Although they will eat carrion, buzzards prefer live prey.  It is said that their dietary menu range covers over 300 other species. Like most successful survivalists, they are opportunistic hunters.

A hungry buzzard is quite capable to catching and killing a pigeon. An unsuspecting pigeon on the ground can be caught unawares by the speed of a buzzard attack.

It is easily overcome by the buzzard’s superior weight and strength and has no defence against the ripping talons of a raptor.

The buzzard will pin the pigeon down and attack the pigeon with its beak every few seconds.

The hunting and killing method of buzzards is similar to other birds that prey on pigeons like others in the hawk family.

Method of Hunting

Unlike most other types of hawk, they don’t plummet down on their prey from a great height.

They either launch from a perch or maintain a low-level hover.

They hunt both in the air and on the ground.

a buzzard

Although most other bird predations are believed to be hatchlings and fledglings, the evidence isn’t consistent.

In some areas, the majority of the bird prey that falls to buzzards are adults.

This variation depends on region, species of buzzard and other factors.

The Exception to the Rule

The Honey Buzzard is said to be a rare and secretive bird but can be found around the UK, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Not a true buzzard of the Buteo genus, it is almost identical to the Common Buzzard in appearance.

Generally, they aren’t carnivorous and primarily feed on insects. Its prey are wasps, grubs, larvae and other types of airborne insects.

They dig up nests and break into hives.

Fun Facts about Buzzards

  • They are solitary birds
  • Height: 20-22 inches
  • Weight: 15-48 oz.
  • Wingspan: 42-53 inches
  • Lifespan: 12-20 years
  • Speed 25-28 mph
  • Habitat: woodlands, marshes and farmlands, although they are known to venture to the outskirts of towns and cities.
  • Natural predators: wildcats, foxes and eagles
  • Their hearing is so good that they can detect a mouse moving in the grass

In Conclusion

Buzzards will eat pigeons on the ground or on the wing, but it is usually the very young that they target.

Pigeons don’t usually stand a chance against a surprise attack by a determined buzzard.

So watch out if you see buzzards in the area and your pigeons are flying free.

Recent Posts