Why do Buzzards circle?

by Russ on July 7, 2013

Buzzards are now a common sight across much of the UK. Keep an eye out for them resting on fence posts.Is it a bird? Is it a plane? It’s an Eagle! Well, not quite. Although it’s easy to think that the enormous bird circling high in the sky must be some type of eagle, it is much more likely to be a buzzard. This large, majestic birds can often been seen during country walks flying high in the sky, circling round and round. So just why do they circling so high?

Buzzards are now a common sight across much of the UK but that has not always been the case. There was once a time when they were persecuted and poisoned by us and it put them in serious danger of local extinction. But protection has since seen this species boom in number. The reason they were targeted was because they are predators and top predators at that. Large, strong talons and a sharp beak make light work of rabbits, small rodents and even frogs!

Rabbits would be wise not to stray too far from the burrow when a buzzard is around.To catch their prey, the buzzard must launch a surprise attack. If their prey spots them too early, they will quickly escape into thick undergrowth or down a burrow. To ‘hide’ from their prey, buzzards fly high up into the sky. They will often be seen circling because they are using thermals of rising air that slowly spiral upwards.

The bird can spot moving prey from up to 1 mile away,  that good is its vision. Something like a rabbit would be very unwise to venture too far from its warren.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

paula August 26, 2016 at 11:11 am


We have often seen 3 buzzards circling near us (great shelford). We have seen them this morning at 11am – circling and calling in the clear blue sky. They look amazing. Are there many around this area?
Paula & david


Russ October 11, 2016 at 8:12 am

Hi Paula and David,
It is wonderful to see a buzzard circling. These days buzzards are a common sight up and down the country. Once they were heavily persecuted by man, but now under our protection their populations have recovered nicely.

Many thanks for getting in touch,



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