The Augur Buzzard, also known as the Buteo Augur, is a large bird of prey classified under the family of Accipitridae. This family of small to large predator birds, including Old World vultures, Bearded vultures, Honey Buzzards, and Elanine kites.
This bird species is commonly confused with Jackal Buzzard and Archer’s Buzzard. The Augur Buzzards are non-migratory birds usually found in Ethiopia, Kenya, Angola, and Tanzania. Located in various habitats like savannahs and semi-deserts, this bird species’ population is at a continuous rise. Since Augur Buzzards have an extremely large range and their population trend is stable, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorized this bird species as Least Concern.
The Augur Buzzard is also a significant bird to the Seattle Seahawks, a professional American football team in Seattle, Washington, which uses this bird as their mascot.
Its seven levels of scientific classification are as follows:
Species: B. augur
The physical characteristics of an Augur Buzzard
The Augur Buzzard holds most of the qualities you would expect to find in a predator bird—large size and broad wings. This bird species displays two different plumages: dark and standard morphs. An adult Augur Buzzard usually has dark grey or black upperparts. Its flight feathers are characterized by the color black and pale grey bars on the secondaries. It has a reddish tail with faint dark grey markings.
On the other hand, its underparts and underwing-coverts vary in color. Most of the time, they are white, but it can be black or dark grey. Its carpal patch is black. Its flight feathers are dominantly white with black tips and marks all over it.
Its head is grey in color. A male Augur Buzzard has white chin and throat, while a female Augur Buzzard has dark grey chin and throat that has black markings.
Its black bill has a yellow cere. The eyes are reddish-brown in color, whereas the legs and feet are yellow.
A male Augur Buzzard weighs between 880 and 1,160 g, whereas a female bird weighs between 1,100 and 1,330. Both can grow from 48 to 60 cm with a wingspan of 120 to 149 cm.
The distribution and habitat of Augur Buzzards
Augur Buzzards are endemic to the eastern and southwestern regions of Africa. Despite the population’s irregular distribution across the continent, they are deemed common in the areas mentioned above. You can commonly spot an Augur Buzzard in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, eastern Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi, and some parts of Namibia and Angola. Despite their prevalence in southern African countries, they are considered vagrants in South Africa.
These birds frequent a wide range of habitats, including subtropical or tropical moist montane, open grassland or woodland savannahs, dry shrublands, subtropical or tropical high altitudes, rocky areas such as inland cliffs and mountain peaks, and semi-deserts.
The behavior of an Augur Buzzard
During flight displays, Augur Buzzards cry a loud “a-kow a-kow a-kow” sound to call the attention of a bird with the opposite sex. They are described to be noisy predator birds, even outside the breeding season. Augur Buzzards also yelp loudly when in flight or the perch.
During the breeding season, the Augur Buzzards become territorial. These birds are usually monogamous, but some scientific researches have found that some birds engage in polygamous relationships. A female Augur Buzzard usually lays an average of two creamy or bluish-white eggs. These are then incubated solely by the female bird for 40 days, while the male Augur Buzzard hunts and provides food for its partner. Once the eggs were hatched, the chicks leave the nest when they reach 70 days old.
Augur Buzzards are generally non-migratory and sedentary birds that stay within their range, although some immature Augur Buzzards exhibit more nomadic qualities than adults.
The diet of an Augur Buzzard
As opportunistic predators, Augur Buzzards typically catch their prey on the ground. It flies downward from still-hunting from a perch or a soaring or hovering flight. These birds feed primarily on lizards, terrestrial mammals, reptiles, snakes, insects, and small vertebrates. Sometimes, they feed on small ground birds, nestlings, and assorted rats. Occasionally, they hunt for larger prey such as chickens, hyraxes, and hares.
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