You may have seen a common buzzard (or Buteo) perching on a telephone pole, fence post or other high spot. These large birds have a unique silhouette which allows them to soar on thermals, or currents of air rising from the ground. Their broad wings allow them to cover a lot of ground in a short period of time, allowing the bird to search for food or to find a roost.
Buzzards can be found in open country across the UK and are often spotted hunting over fields, pastures and moorland. They also breed in woodlands and farmland, as well as around towns and cities where they take advantage of the tall trees found in parks and cemeteries.
Like all vultures, they feed on dead animals and their rotting carcasses. They play a vital role in the ecosystem by getting rid of dead animals and keeping disease at bay. Their bare heads are designed to bake any bacteria off and their digestive juices kill any infections. They are also self-cleaning, urinating on their feet to remove any germs they’ve picked up.
While they’re not able to fly through the night, buzzards do have some form of REM-like sleep while they’re on the wing. These restful moments allow their brains to rest, reducing the energy needed for flight and digestion. This allows the bird to conserve the fuel it uses when hunting and helps it stay alert for prey opportunities.