Nature girl's picture

Soaring pigeon?

I saw a bird today in Kent that at first glance looked like a buzzard because it was soaring in the familiar way that buzzards do, with a slightly circular motion and quite high in the sky. However, observing it for a few minutes made me realise that it was not in fact a buzzard because every 15 seconds or so it would flap its wings for a bit and then return to this buzzard-like motion.

Unfortunately, I had no camera on me at the time and I wasn't close enough to see any markings or get a brilliant idea of the shape of the bird. My best guess is that it was just a pigeon, which was for some reason pretending to be a buzzard. I'd be very interested to know if anyone has observed similar behaviour from a pigeon or other bird and if anyone has a different suggestion as to what this mystery bird was.



RoyW's picture

Sounds like a soaring

Sounds like a soaring Sparrowhawk to me.

Carstairs's picture

collard dove

I would guess at a collard dove. They fly like this when courting. It is so hawk like it is termed "hawking."

Alison Davies's picture

Soaring pigeon?

May be collard dove, but last Thursday I saw a bird that looked like a pigeon and flew similarly but somehow faster flapping - it was lightish brown all over, and I worked out, from one or two previous sightings, that it was in fact a sparrow hawk. Same size as a pigeon but different colour. My one didn't do the soaring thing, nevertheless -

What colour was yours? That seems fairly relevant.


Nature girl's picture

Soaring vs. hovering

Thank you for your comments. I didn't know that collared doves behave in that way. I think that it was more likely to have been a sparrowhawk though because of its size; I don't think it was big enough to be a collared dove (am I right in thinking that they are smaller than wood pigeons?). I couldn't see the colour of the bird, but thinking about the silhouette now makes me think it was more likely a sparrowhawk because it did look like that of a bird of prey.

This has now got me wondering about flight patterns of birds of prey. Any ideas why kestrels hover? Do they need to do so in order to keep at the same height or would they be able to soar as well? Also, can sparrowhawks soar for long periods of time like buzzards can? Could this be something to do with buzzards being generally higher in the sky and perhaps air currents being different or just different styles of hunting?

So many questions... sorry!

Carstairs's picture


Sparrow hawks do indeed soar like buzzards if the conditions are right. They usually do it at quite a height too. Hovering is just another way of hunting, different species have different ways of doing it. Perigrines swoop from a great height and take birds on the wing. Hobbies take dragon flies whilst in flight. Different strokes etc. It's not unusual to see Buzzards hovering particularly when there is a strong up draft like on sea cliffs. HTH

Nature girl's picture

Thanks for your reply; it's

Thanks for your reply; it's very interesting to know :)