Differences between Buzzard and Hawk

Buzzard Buzzard
Hawk Hawk

Buzzard and Hawk are two classes of birds that belong to the Accipitridae family .

Buzzards are birds of prey in the subfamily Buteoninae. They are characterized by large wings, rounded tails, short neck, and a sharp hooked beak. They have huge feet with sharp talons. The birds also have excellent vision that helps them to spot small prey from a distance. The plumage is deeper brown on the top and pale brown or white below.

Hawk is a bird of prey. It is intelligent, strong, and powerful. Its talons are sharp and curved, while its beak is hooked and tough. The bird has superior vision, intense hearing, and muscular legs. The back of a Hawk is typically darker brown, while its belly and tail are lighter brown. The wings are large with black and white designs. Although Hawks are classified in the Accipitridae family, the name Hawk is also applied to birds in the Falconidae family. There are over 200 species in the Hawk family.

Where are Buzzard and Hawk found?

Buzzards live in diverse regions. They can be found in forests, plains, marshes, agricultural land, and cities. Buzzards can be found across the world except Antarctica. Some species are endemic to certain regions. For example, the Black-breasted Buzzard exists only in Australia. Furthermore, in the USA, Vultures are referred to as Buzzards.

Hawks prefer deserts and large fields. They are native to North America. However, since they adapt easily, they are found in mountains, grasslands, rainforests, savannas, and coasts. The exist in all parts of the world except Antarctica.

What do Buzzard and Hawk eat?

Buzzards hunt for small insects, worms, rabbits, lizards, snakes, mice, and other birds. They sometimes also eat dead animals.

Hawks are carnivores. They eat insects, crustaceans, birds, reptiles, and small mammals. Their diet largely depends on the biological diversity in their location. They are proficient hunters that grab their prey with their talons and tear them apart with their beak.

Here are a few pointers about the eating patterns between Buzzard and Hawk

  • Both Buzzard and Hawk eat Fish.
  • Both Buzzard and Hawk eat Frogs.
  • Both Buzzard and Hawk eat Lizards.
  • Both Buzzard and Hawk eat Snakes.
  • Both Buzzard and Hawk eat Turtles.
  • Both Buzzard and Hawk eat Squirrels.
  • Gophers are commonly eaten by Buzzard, but not by all Hawk.
  • Baby Ducks are consumed by both Buzzardand Hawk.
  • Mice are eaten by both Buzzard and Hawk.

Size of Buzzard and Hawk?

When it comes to size, Buzzards are generally 1.3-1.9 feet long. They have a wingspan of 3.6-4.5 feet. Upland Buzzard is one of the largest species. It is 1.8-2.3 feet long with a wingspan of 4.8 feet.. Hawk species exist in different sizes. Sharp-shinned Hawk, one of the smallest of the species, measures 0.9-1.2 feet with a wingspan of 1.9-2.2 feet. Ferruginous Hawk is among the larger species with a length of 1.6-2.2 feet and a wingspan of four to five feet.

The average weight of a Buzzard is 1.2-2.8 pounds. The Upland Buzzard weighs 3.08 pounds. while The weight of Hawks varies depending on the species. The Sharp-shinned Hawk weighs about 2.9-4.1 pounds. On the other hand, Ferruginous Hawk – the largest Hawk species, weighs 32-80 pounds.

Where do Buzzard and Hawk nest?

Buzzards make large nests, about one meter in diameter and 60 centimeters in depth. They prefer an elevation of 10-80 feet above the ground. Both male and female partners build the nest on tall trees using twigs, leaves, sticks, branches, and other plant material. Sometimes Buzzards use an old nest by restoring it and adding soft material in the centre. The mother bird incubates the eggs that hatch in 38-39 days. The young ones fledge when they are 50-55 days old but stay with the parents for another eight weeks.

Hawks usually build their nests on top of tall trees or in the ledges of cliffs. In cities, they create their nests on windowsills, rooftops, and billboards. The male and female partners together build the nest with sticks, moss, and plant material prior to the onset of the mating season. The partners incubate the eggs for 25-32 days. They tend to the young ones and feed them for about six weeks. Although the chicks will be able to fly after six weeks, they remain with their parents till they are about six months old.

How long do Buzzard and Hawk live?

The average lifespan of Buzzards is eight years. Infant mortality among the species is high due to starvation and human factors. The oldest Buzzard in the world is known to have lived for a little over 25 years.

The average lifespan of hawks in the wild is 12-20 years. They live longer in captivity. The longest-lived Hawk died at 30 years and eight months in February 2011 in Michigan, USA.

Are Buzzard or Hawk migratory birds?

Most Buzzards species are migratory. The ones living in Canada start migrating in September and travel as far as Venezuela. Buzzards from northern hemisphere and North America travel to Africa. The Steppe Buzzard is known for travelling the longest distance. It migrates from eastern Europe to Siberia during winters. The Himalayan Buzzard is another species that travels 1,000-2,000 miles.

Hawks have different migrating patterns. Some of them migrate in autumns, while some travel in spring. Further, the time when they start migrating also depends on the distance they must travel. The bird that reaches the migrating site first gets improved access to food sources and better preference to choose a mate. The direction in which Hawks migrate depends on the direction of wind. However, typically Hawks from Canada migrate to central and southern USA in winters. Sparrow Hawks from Russia, China, and Japan travel to warmer regions in India, Myanmar, and Indonesia.

Do Buzzard and Hawk fly in flocks?

A flock of Buzzards is known as wake. These birds are not very sociable but are territorial. They may form small groups of about 20. They prefer being alone or with their partners while hunting. They however flock in large numbers during migration. The Grasshopper Buzzard is a species that is more gregarious, living in larger groups of up to a 100.

A flock of Hawks is called a kettle or a cast. Hawks are generally solitary birds. They come together only during the mating season. They also flock in large numbers during migration to conserve energy and take advantage of thermals.

Are Buzzard or Hawk protected?

Buzzards are protected birds in the USA, where harming or killing them is against the law. In the UK, the birds are protected but one can get a license to kill them. Buzzards are also protected in other countries such as the Philippines, France, India, Japan, and Korea.

Hawks are protected in most parts of the world like the USA, Canada, Australia, India, Japan, and the UK. Harming the bird or its nest is punishable in these countries.

Are Buzzard or Hawk endangered?

Buzzards are of least concern in terms of conservation. Their numbers are observed to be on a rise in England. Europe has the largest population of Buzzards. On an overall scale, the numbers of Buzzards are declining. This can be attributed to exposure to pesticides that not only poison the birds, but also affect their reproductive abilities. Besides, they are also victims to illegal shooting.

Generally speaking, Hawks are not endangered. However, some species are at risk. For instance, the Ridgway’s Hawk from Dominican Republic is the most critically endangered of all species. The Red-shouldered Hawk in New Jersey is another endangered Hawk species. Ferruginous Hawks are listed as threatened in Canada.

Can Buzzard and Hawk fly?

Buzzards have wide wings that help them soar high. However, the wings are rather weak. The birds do not flap their wings too much. The birds are mostly sedentary and do not move around much regularly. They fly in high altitudes by using thermals and obstruction wind currents. Buzzards can fly at a speed of 28-30 miles per hour.

Hawks are skilled flyers. They can fly at a speed of 150 miles per hour while diving. They can soar at altitudes of up to 3,280 feet above sea level. During migration, the birds travel thousands of miles, covering about 1,000 mile a day. Hawks usually fly solitarily. However, to conserve energy during migration or to maintain thermals they may fly in large groups.

Can Buzzard and Hawk swim?

Buzzards are not water birds. They do not have the body structure or webbed feet to swim. They however go near waters for bathing and drinking.

Hawks do not swim. They do not have webbed feet required for swimming. They dive into water to capture their prey.

Mating patterns among Buzzard and Hawk

Buzzards attain sexual maturity at the age of three. At the onset of the breeding season, the male and female pair follow each other, flying high in circles, and spiral downward with their wings raised high. The male also performs aerial dances and beats his flaps dramatically to impress the female. The female lays two to four eggs and incubates them for about 35 days. The eggs hatch in intervals of two days. She also broods the young ones for about two weeks, during which time the male fetches her the food. Thereafter, both partners engage in feeding the young ones.

Hawks start mating when they are two to three years old. In the mating season, the male and female birds indulge in courtship and aerial dances. They soar up and fly in circles, gliding to the ground while clutching each other. They also give out calls during courtship and nesting. The clutch size depends on the species. The female Hawk lays one to five eggs that vary in size for different species. Both partners involve themselves in feeding and protecting the young ones.

When is the mating season for Buzzard and Hawk ?

Buzzards mate during March-May. While courtship and display commence in early March, fledging takes place in July.

The mating season for Hawks is March-May every year. It is the time of spring in most parts of the world.

Do Buzzard and Hawk mate for life?

Buzzards are monogamous. They mate for life. They are also protective about their territory, defending it throughout the year.

Hawks are mostly monogamous. They mate for life, however come together only during mating, nesting, and caring for young ones. They are not known to hunt or live together.

How do Buzzard and Hawk sleep?

Buzzards roost in colonies on top of trees where they feel safe. They gather each night in the same place for all the years.

Hawks sleep at night with their heads buried in their backs. They sleep on high trees amidst thick leaves and branches to keep themselves warm. During breeding, the female bird sleeps in the nest.

Can Buzzard and Hawk be eaten?

Some cultures in Africa eat the meat of Buzzards. However, it is not advisable to eat these birds as they contain decomposing bacteria and diseases in them, making them unhealthy for consumption.

Most cultures have avoided eating Hawk meat. In existing times, killing Hawks is prohibited by law. However, some tribes in countries like USA can obtain a permit to eat the wild bird.

Can you hunt Buzzard or Hawk?

Buzzards are not hunted for their meat. They are sometimes killed for harming livestock and poultry, or for sport. Many countries prohibit such killings, although in some countries like the UK license can be obtained to shoot these birds.

Hawks were hunted in ancient times for their feathers and falconry. In fact, falconry is still practiced in many countries. This is despite existence of laws to protect the bird.

Can you feed Buzzard or Hawk?

In captivity, Buzzards are fed meat, chicken, rodents, and fish. It is not legal or encouraged to feed wild birds in public in most nations.

In captivity or under falconers, Hawks are fed chickens, rodents, and meat. Owning and feeding hawks requires special permit in some countries, while feeding them in public is also not allowed everywhere.