A mostly solitary species (4), the common buzzard is frequently encountered perched on a tree or post, or hovering in mid-air, scanning open ground for prey (2). Small mammals are most commonly taken, including voles, mice, rats, moles, young rabbits and hares. When spotted, the common buzzard makes a swift dive on half-closed wings and snatches its prey in its powerful talons. This species will also prey opportunistically on birds, reptiles, invertebrates and carrion (2).
Towards the beginning of the breeding season, the common buzzard can be seen engaging in spectacular aerial displays, performing soaring, tumbling and loop the loop, aerial manoeuvres (3). Between March and May, the breeding pairs construct a nest in a large tree on a fork or branch, usually near to the edge of a wood. The nest comprises a bulky platform of sticks, lined with greenery, in which the female lays a clutch of between two to four eggs. Following an incubation period of around 33 to 38 days, the chicks hatch and are brooded by the female for three weeks, while the male supplies food. Fledging occurs around 50 to 60 days after hatching, but the young continue to be fed by both parents for a further six to eight weeks. Sexual maturity is reached at three years old, and the lifespan has been known to reach 25 years (2).
During migration, the common buzzard may form flocks (4), which utilise thermals to glide for long distances with minimal effort (3). When crossing large bodies of water, such as the Gibraltar straits, where thermals are absent, this species climbs as high as possible before gliding over the entire expanse (3).