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A record of a country's daily activities: Mating activities of birds of prey in an elegant, coordinated routine | Written by Ed Douglas
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A record of a country’s daily activities: Mating activities of birds of prey in an elegant, coordinated routine | Written by Ed Douglas


As I am cleaning dishes, I suddenly recognize the distinct cry of a buzzard. I associate this sound with a cat attempting to mimic a six-shooter, saying “Pyew! Pyew!” However, I do not bother to look up. 25 years ago, when I first relocated to this valley in the outskirts of Sheffield, hearing a buzzard would have caused me to immediately rush outside to catch a glimpse of it. But now, the buzzard population has nearly doubled and their steady recovery in the 20th century, largely due to the Protection of Birds Act of 1954, has also reached my area.

I purposely choose this phrase as I live in a small area of development surrounded by a larger block of old coppice oak forest. On the eastern side of the valley, beyond the woods, there are several golf courses. This environment appears to be perfect for a bird that constructs nests in trees and enjoys scavenging for worms on the grassy fairways. Buzzards frequently frequent this location.

Another round of kitten bullets is fired, but this time they are much closer. I take a moment to glance up and spot a buzzard soaring in the air by a nearby oak tree. I step out onto the kitchen porch to get a better view. Soon after, a second buzzard joins in, and it appears to be the female based on its larger size. Female buzzards can be up to a third larger than their male counterparts.

Following the previous events of buzzard courtship, the male and female engage in a series of impressive displays. These usually involve the male tumbling from the sky or performing upside-down flights with talons extended toward the female. However, currently, there is no such activity taking place. Instead, the two birds gracefully move around the top of an oak tree in a synchronized manner, resembling a dance routine. With precise movements, they take turns switching positions and mirroring each other’s actions, almost as if they have rehearsed this routine for years. This is not surprising, as buzzards are known to mate for life.

Maybe they will come together again for another mating season. But before that, they will perform their courtship dance.

Source: theguardian.com