If you ever find yourself trekking through Africa, mainly in Angola, Namibia and Ethiopia, and happen to look up into the clear blue sky, you might find a shape cruising the plains with upward curved wingtips. If you do, then you might just have spotted the Augur Buzzard.
This is a very large bird of prey that you can find in parts of Africa. It has a very distinctive grey plumage with a white belly. It has a flatter head than a lot of other birds of prey of this type.
It hunts regularly, mainly feasting on snakes, lizards, small ground-based mammals and the occasional insect.
This creature is well adapted for the hot climates of Africa, with short feathers that actually help with ventilation. It can often be seen in a hovering position, which it uses to spot prey before swooping down and attacking quickly and efficiently.
But where can you find this amazing bird? What are its mating habits? Does it like humans? Where can you find it nesting? How does it cope in the African heat? How long do they live? What does their poop look like? How long do they breed for? How have they adapted to kill prey so well?
Well, if you want answers to these questions and a whole lot more, then we would suggest that you read on.
We have everything that you need to know about the Augur Buzzard, so that you’ll be able to surprise your friends with your bird knowledge. This is also great for amateur ornithologists.
These birds belong to the ‘buteo’ species that only exist in Africa. They are around 48 to 60 cm in length, very similar in size to the jackal buzzard. They have a massive wingspan, measuring between 120 – 149 cm in length.
The females are traditionally larger than the males, being over 200 pounds heavier.
The plumage of this bird is quite remarkable, with a black-brown body and a rufous tail. The flight feathers are black with an off-white color on the outside edges. Both of these parts of its body are barred black.
The chin and throat of this creature are white, although the belly and wing underparts have a hint of red. The feathers that are used for flight are white with a dark border around them.
Male Vs Female
The female is larger than the male, which is typical for birds of prey of this type. The female also has a spot of dark coloring underneath its throat, which is one of the main ways you can tell it apart from the male.
The baby Augur Buzzards start off with a more brown coloring, which will eventually turn white as they get older.
Are They Aggressive?
This bird is only really aggressive if it feels like they are being threatened. They generally won’t attack human beings unless they feel threatened. There have even been reports of people rescuing these buzzards and they will not attack the handlers.
What Adaptations Do They Have?
This bird has developed a hooked bill to make it easier to shear the flesh of the prey from the bones. It will also use this beak to sever the spinal column, which is very important when it is trying to kill prey quickly and efficiently.
It also has muscular razor-sharp claws that it used to kill and carry prey over vast distances. These talons are so sharp they can kill a small mammal or lizard within seconds.
The Augur Buzzard will usually be monogamous, although there have been some observations of this beast being polygamous. They will often start mating in the summer season, roughly April through until June or July.
The female will usually produce around 3 bluish-cream eggs which are incubated by the female. The male will help to build the nest and it will be his sole responsibility to bring the female food as she is incubating.
The eggs hatch after around 40 days with the chicks flying the nest after a further 50-60 days. These chicks can stick around their parents even after they have learned to fly the nest after 70 days.
The Augur has a generally longer reproductive period than a lot of other raptors, laying far fewer eggs.
This creature often engages in very noisy aerial displays, letting out different sounds for when they are mating and when they are calling to their mate.
The sounds of the aerial display will alter dramatically as they increase in intensity. They usually let out a crow-like sound, followed by a shriller calling sound as the aerial display comes to its conclusion.
What Do They Eat? (Diet)
This bird will feast on anything in the general area, mainly lizards and snakes that are often found in dry holes in the desert. They also prey on smaller birds, using a swooping method and surprising them in mid-air.
There have been varied reports of different percentages of this creature’s diet depending on where they nest. Some locations have reported a 59% reptilian diet, whereas other observers have seen a higher proportion of mammal remains in the nest.
This creature has also been known to eat roadkill. They often attack ground-nesting birds, able to spring on them from above.
Where Do They Live? (Habitat)
This bird is found in the Eastern and Southwestern portions of Africa. It is distributed far and wide across these areas, especially in Northern Somalia, Ethiopia and Sudan.
It nests in open wooded upland areas, although it does like to hunt in desert climates that are below sea level. It will also be seen around the more mountainous areas, depending on whether there is plenty of food there for them to eat.
They like to hunt in more open areas, usually hovering above the moors and various croplands. They can usually reach a top elevation of 1,300 and 1,500 feet.
What Are Their Nesting Habits?
The male and the female both help to build the nest, which can reach up to 100 cm in diameter. It is usually placed in the nook of a tree, but it will not be high up in the crown. It is often made with sticks which are then lined with green leaves.
The Augur buzzard will sometimes use the same nest, although it is not uncommon for this bird to use a few alternative nests.
How long Do They Live? (Lifespan)
This bird has a longer lifespan than other birds of prey, having an average lifespan of around 20 – 25 years. In captivity, you could even see one of these buzzards living for upwards of 35 years.
What Predators Do They Have?
This bird is considered an apex predator, so it has no creatures that would dare prey on it. The only real threat to this animal is human encroachment and damage to its environment.
This buzzard might be susceptible to large animal attacks when it is on the ground.
What Are Their Feathers Like?
The feathers are largely dark grey on the back with a pure white belly with streaks of yellow. The feathers on the wings are very long and are turned up at the end, which aids flight control and makes them more aerodynamic.
What Does Their Poop Look Like?
The poop of this bird is white and stringy, which is often due to the diet that they eat. You can often find these droppings in the desert.
Do They Migrate?
This buzzard will not migrate, often staying in the mountains or near the grasslands where it was born. The juveniles will often stay near their parents for a long period of time, even after they have developed the capability to fly the nest and hunt independently.
The numbers of the Augur Buzzard are around the 10,000 mark, meaning that they are considered a species of ‘least concern’ by the conservation authorities.
The main threat to this creature’s numbers are human beings, who might encroach onto their territory or demolish the nearby grasslands for farmland.
However, because this bird nests near the mountains, then it is largely out of the way of human hunting. This creature has been hunting in previous years, but the practice has largely dwindled in recent times.
This creature often hunts from a rock or a tree, perching for days sometimes in search of the perfect kill.
The Augur Buzzard might also hunt by hopping on the ground. It is not uncommon for this bird to attack desert hares, trying to claw them out of their holes.
This bird is one of the most territorial, it will often be seen aggressively defending its territory. It will also use the same patch of land for hunting and breeding for years.