Altai Andy's picture

Unusual buzzard

Observed: 27th March 2007 By: Altai AndyAltai Andy’s reputation in Birds
Species interactions

No interactions present.

Species with which Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) interacts


Kluut's picture


Just checked breeding range of honey buzzards in the UK, and Moray is within one of the centres of distribution, so it looks a likely candidate

RoyW's picture

An unusual bird.

The plumage of both Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) and Honey-buzzard is extremely variable, but plumage like this is not usually seen in either species. It is possible that this individual may have a pigment deficiency (eg. leucism) which has resulted in the pale colouration.

In my opinion it looks like a Common Buzzard because Honey-buzzards have a slightly different shape, with proportionately longer tail and smaller, more protuding head.
Honey-buzzards could potentially be seen in the area though - very few pairs actually breed in the region, but there have been quite a few passing through Britain on route to Scandinavia in the last couple of weeks.

Edit: I've just noticed the date of the observation - the 27th March is far too early for a Honey-buzzard, which would make the bird a Common Buzzard (as the structure sugests).
Jamaises - I agree that it is a Common Buzzard, but Kluut is correct that Honey-buzzards do breed in, and migrate through, the general area, and plumage colouration/pattern is probably not safe to use to ID this individual (tail length is OK though!).

sirhandle's picture

Common Buzzard

I would have to agree with common buzzard here. It's hard to nail down but the combination of a squatter body, thicker neck and shorter tail seems to fit. I've observed both species in the Western Lake district and their patternation can be quite similar (although the colours on this are unusual). It's the shape that suggests common buzzard to me, cant put it any better than that really!

Just go out there and do it!!!

Kluut's picture

Honey buzzard distribution

The RSPB website highlights this area as breeding range for honey buzzards - so they do go this far north Jamaises.

bobthebirder's picture


I agree that this looks like a leucistic common buzzard. Honeys differ from common in many ways apart from the barring referred to in most bird books. They have longer necks, thinner wings, and a completely different wing shape. This looks exactly like a common buzzard except that the colours are washed-out, not patchy white as in a normal pale buzzard. So a leucistic looks likely. A very rare sighting.

Bob Ford

Milvus's picture

Have to say, I agree with

Have to say, I agree with Bob. On structure, relative proportions, wing-shape and tail length this looks, to my eye, like nothing other than a common buzzard to me, though a bizarre, and very interesting, colour aberration at that.

Kluut's picture

Proportions etc.

I have no strong feeling either way, but comments as to proportions etc. strike me as odd.
The bird is photographed in partial profile so that the general proportions of the head and neck are difficult to discern - if you google images of honey buzzard, you will find images of honey buzzards with "front ends" on that look like this and some that don't.
In soaring flight, which this one appears to be, tail shape/size is also reckoned not to be different bewteen the two species. Apparent proportions, including width of wing are also reckoned to appear to vary depending on how they are flying - soaring, gliding etc..
I think that covers general proportions.

Again, like so many photographs of birds, this one is far from easy to identify, when it would have probably taken a very few seconds in real life.

Personally, I would have said that an apparent complete lack of spots on the underside of the body favoured it being a common buzzard, and hang all the conjecture about proportions.

Altai Andy's picture


Thanks very much to everyone who has taken the time to share their knowledge regarding this bird; all very innteresting stuff :o)