How The Peregrine Fund is Helping
The Peregrine Fund supported Ph.D. research on Augur Buzzards at Lake Naivasha in Kenya for several years. We continue to work in Kenya to protect all raptors and their habitats found there. We worked with local communities and installed anti-predator systems around Maasai livestock enclosures, called bomas, and evaluated their efficiency as a means to stop livestock depredation and subsequently deliberate wildlife poisoning.
We are now focusing our conservation efforts on Rapid Response to Poisoning trainings
Additionally, our efforts in scientific research, habitat conservation, education, and community development help conserve birds of prey around the world. We also supply literature to researchers from our avian research library, which helps scientists around the world gather and share important information on raptor conservation.
Where They Live
The Augur Buzzard makes its home throughout much of sub-Saharan Africa. It can be found from Somalia to Ethiopia, through Malawi and Zimbabwe, Uganda, Kenya and Botswana, among other countries.
This lovely raptor prefers to spends its time in a mixture of open habitats, as well as rocky areas, wooded slopes, and exotic tree plantations in hilly and mountainous country from sea level to high peaks. In some areas throughout its range, it frequents areas wherever there are roadside poles of fences where it can find suitable places for perching.
What They Do
If you are lucky enough to see an Augur Buzzard, don't worry, you would have a hard time confusing it with any other species. Its stunning plumage is unmistakable. Its head, back and tail are a robust brownish black, its breast is white and it has a reddish tail. In flight its black and white wings contrast beautifully with its rufous tail.
The Augur Buzzard is diurnal - meaning it hunts, soars, cares for its young and otherwise goes about its business during daylight hours.
Like many birds of prey, the Augur Buzzard is a top predator. It hunts other animals for food but no animals hunt it on a regular basis. For most top predators, their only threat is humans. Top predators, such as the Augur Buzzard, play an important role in nature by helping to control populations of prey animals and maintain a balance in the ecosystems where they live.
Why They Need our Help
The Augur Buzzard is one of the most common buzzards in all of eastern Africa. However, each day it is being negatively affected in some areas throughout its range due to deforestation and overgrazing of grasslands. It is currently categorized as a species of "Least Concern" by BirdLife International. This means scientists aren't too worried about the future of this species.
What They Eat
This Augur Buzzard is a skilled predator and feeds on a number of different types of prey. Though reptiles, such as large lizards and poisonous snakes, including the spitting cobras and adders, make up the majority of its diet, it also catches game birds, such as francolins. It will feed on insects and mammals including hares, hyraxes, Unstriped Grass Rat, and Vlei Rat. It hunts from perches or on the wing, soaring or hovering for long periods, then descending slowly on potential prey. It also tail chases larger prey, which it catches with its sharp talons. It also sometimes chases and catches insects while it walks or hops along on the ground.
Nests, Eggs, and Young
Winter in southern Africa lasts from around June to August. The Augur Buzzard will often begin its breeding activities right as winter is ending. Courtship, nest building and copulation will occur around this time.
The pair will spend time picking the right site in which to build their nest - it might be high up in a tree or on a nice ledge of a rocky cliff. Once the pair has selected a good spot, it will get around to building its nest, which can be quite large. They build their nest out of large twigs and sticks. After the nest is built, they will make it softer by lining it with green leaves.
Once the nest is built, the female will lay between 1 to 3 eggs, but most often the clutch size is 2 eggs. Her eggs are white and blotched with brown markings and will need to be incubated for around 40 days!
After the nestlings hatch, they will be completely dependent on their parents to feed them, and to keep them warm and safe from predators. In the following 50 days, the nestlings will continue to grow quickly. However, more often than not, only one Augur Buzzard nestling will survive until fledging. The other nestling, usually the smaller or weaker one, is often killed by its sibling right in the nest. This is known as cainism.
Augur Buzzard and the World Center for Birds of Prey
The World Center for Birds of Prey offers fun ways to learn about birds of prey. Interactive activities, tours, interesting videos and a children's room with activities from coloring sheets to quizzes to costumes await you. At our visitor center, you can see many hawks up close and learn about the wonderful and interesting adaptations they have in order to survive in their respective habitats.
Global Raptor Information Network. 2020. Species account: Augur Buzzard Buteo augur. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 16 Apr. 2020
Kemp, A.C. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Augur Buzzard (Buteo augur). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/53146 on 21 April 2020).
Virani, M.Z. and Harper, D.M., 2004. A comparative study of the breeding behaviour of the Augur Buzzard, Buteo augur, in two different land-use areas in southern Lake Naivasha, Kenya. Ostrich-Journal of African Ornithology, 75(1-2), pp.11-19.
Virani, M.Z. and Harper, D.M., 2009. Factors influencing the breeding performance of the Augur Buzzard Buteo augur in southern Lake Naivasha, Rift Valley, Kenya. Ostrich-Journal of African Ornithology, 80(1), pp.9-17.