Considered to be close relatives of the common buzzard, the Madagascar buzzard, and the mountain buzzard, the forest buzzard (Buteo trizonatus) is an African resident just like steppe buzzards. Some researchers believe that the evolution of the steppe buzzard (Buteo buteo vulpinus) has resulted in the development of forest buzzards. However, several distinctions have attributed a unique identity to the species. Unlikesteppe buzzards who winter in eastern as well as southern Africa, these birds do not prefer to inhabit open habitats although most of their breeding habitats overlap. These birds mostly remain confined to evergreen woodlands and thick temperate forests.
These birds of the Accipitridae family are adept at hunting. They maintain a calm and patient stature, sitting on a perch and locating the prey species. The keen eyesight, hooked beak, large wings, and sharp talons make them prolific hunters. It's so aesthetically pleasing to watch the forest buzzard in flight! The large dark brown body coupled with its distinguished, regal appearance render these raptors a personality worth admiration.
Don't just limit your knowledge to the kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species and binomial name of the forest buzzard species, get a deeper insight into the appearance, habitat, behavior of the bird. For more relatable content, check out these cockatoo facts and Amazon parrot facts for kids.
The forest buzzard (Buteo trizonatus) is a dark brown-colored predatory bird species of the Accipitridae family.
Forest buzzards belong to the Aves class and Buteo genus.
Quantification of the forest buzzard population has depicted the number of adult birds within the range of 670-6,700 although the figures are uncertain. The bird species is Near Threatened which indicates that they do not exist in ample amounts within their geographical boundaries.
Native to the forests of Africa, the breeding population of forest buzzards is restricted to the Western Cape and Eastern Cape. The species occurs in several forested regions of Swaziland and Lesotho, while it can also be located in the mountainous regions of Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, and Mpumalanga outside the breeding season. The partially migrant bird can especially be found in Drakensberg, Eastern Cape during winter.
As the name of the species indicates, the habitat range of the forest buzzard primarily encompasses temperate forests and evergreen woodlands. The bird tends to steer clear of coastal regions or open habitats but it can be spotted in both uplands and lowlands of forest edges including eucalyptus and pine plantations.
Buzzards are typically solitary dwellers, but they can occasionally be seen in flocks, especially during winter migration. Although these birds appear to enjoy life in solitude, they form monogamous pairs.
Generally, forest buzzards have an average life expectancy of eight to twelve years in the wilderness. However, they can survive for a longer period. Records show that the oldest forest buzzard to have survived to date is around 35 years old.
The breeding season begins in September and lasts until January. These birds are monogamous, that is, they stick with only one partner throughout their lives. The breeding habits of these adult pairs are not known in detail. To please the female, a common buzzard male (Buteo buteo) performs what is famously known as the 'roller coaster', which is a ritualistic aerial display. Perhaps the forest buzzard also engages in similar courtship procedures before mating. The nest is constructed on the branch or fork of a tree. The nest is generally cup-shaped and embellished with beard lichen, sticks, and green leaves. Two eggs are normally laid between August and November and incubation extends for a month. Fledging occurs when the young turn 47 days old.
Although the population distribution of the forest buzzard (Buteo trizonatus) is not threatened globally, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, the species falls under the Near Threatened category.
The species bears a great resemblance to the steppe buzzard (Buteo buteo vulpinus). You can identify them by the dark brown head and upper wings. The feathers have rufous edges that vary from one buzzard to another. The undertail coverts and chin are white, whereas the belly and breast are white with variable markings of dark brown. In some adults, there is a brown barring on the breast feathers. The broad subterminal band is dark brown hued with a white underwing tinged with reddish-brown.
The species of bird with its hawk-like appearance, including sharp talons and large outspread wings, looks petrifying. Undoubtedly, it is a manifestation of nature's beauty but it doesn't quite fit in when it comes to cuteness, although the chicks are adorable.
Forest buzzards interact through innumerable calls and sounds. The 'kyaaah' sound is more of a loud mewing squeal similar to that of the common buzzard (Buteo buteo). Other sounds include the whistling 'tzeee' and the polysyllabic 'keee-he-he-he'.
The average length of the forest buzzard (Buteo trizonatus) falls in the range of 16.1-18.9 in (41-48 cm). The species is way smaller than scavenging vultures measuring around 23.6-55.1 in (60-140 cm) in length.
The accurate flight speed of the species needs to be discovered. As per records, the common buzzard (Buteo buteo) has a flight speed of 28 mph (45 kph). Since the species belongs to the buzzard family, it can be inferred that the forest buzzard also possesses a similar flight speed. The upper elevation limit of the bird is 3,281 ft (1,000 m).
With an average weight of about 1.5 lb (0.7 kg), the forest buzzard possesses a medium to large-sized body. It possesses a moderate weight when compared with the golden eagle which measures around 6-15 lb (2.7-6.8 kg).
Neither genders have distinct names and are generally referred to as male and female forest buzzards.
A baby forest buzzard is regarded as a nestling, hatchling, or chick.
The species indulges in a carnivorous diet. The diet primarily consists of a variety of prey species including snakes, small mammals, lizards, scorpions, beetles, wasps, frogs, and grasshoppers. They can also kill birds.
Although the species holds the reputation of an unmerciful predator, it is not dangerous to people. These birds do not attack or harm humans unnecessarily. They don't kill cats or dogs although they might be seen feeding on dead cats. In fact, forest buzzards are hunted down by predators like foxes, wildcats, and larger eagles.
Usually, birds of prey are not reared as pets owing to their ferocious appearance and predatory instincts. Moreover, this bird species should not be removed from its natural habitat in the wild and confined in a domestic environment. In several countries, it is illegal to tame birds from the wilderness, involving stringent punishments against the perpetrator.
Kidadl Advisory: All pets should only be bought from a reputable source. It is recommended that as a potential pet owner you carry out your own research prior to deciding on your pet of choice. Being a pet owner is very rewarding but it also involves commitment, time and money. Ensure that your pet choice complies with the legislation in your state and/or country. You must never take animals from the wild or disturb their habitat. Please check that the pet you are considering buying is not an endangered species, or listed on the CITES list, and has not been taken from the wild for the pet trade.
These birds are highly territorial during the breeding season. Even chicks are pretty aggressive towards their siblings. Since the eggs are not laid synchronously, the older hatchling always tries to deprive the younger one of food. In case of food scarcity, the younger one normally starves.
Forest buzzards are not considered to be endangered but they do not enjoy a secure position either. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the species is Near Threatened which implies that they're currently vulnerable. In South Africa, these birds were previously believed to be threatened but their recent population trend is increasing. Nevertheless, if necessary precautionary measures are not taken, this bird species of the buzzard kingdom might perish in the future. Where the common buzzard (Buteo buteo) can be found all over Europe, the population distribution of the forest buzzard species is enclosed within the range of Africa, with no specimens of this bird of prey found elsewhere in the world.
The term 'buzzard' translates to a hawk-like bird of prey. The word has been derived from the Old French 'buisart' which means 'inferior hawk' or from the Latin word 'buteonem'. Oftentimes buzzards are confused with vultures due to similarities in appearance and behavior. However, there are pronounced differences that set both species apart. Although both are birds of prey, the buzzards have stronger beaks as compared to vultures. Normally, vultures do not kill the prey before feasting on it. Another distinctive feature is that the heads of vultures are bald whereas the buzzards are not at all bald.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our white hawk interesting facts and saker falcon surprising facts pages.
You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Philippine fairy bluebird coloring pages.
The main image is by Derek Keats.
The second image is by Dhaval Vargiya.