Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Scottish Buzzard - aka The 'Tourist Eagle'

This is a very good example of the Scottish variety of the European Buzzard (Buteo). Also known as the Cat eagle because it makes a 'meuwing' cry when gliding across the fields and forests.

They feed on small animals and birds but spend a great deal of their time on the ground feeding on beetles and worms, which is not very glamorous for a raptor.

They are much smaller than the Golden Eagle and far more common. The Buzzard has a 4 - 5 foot wingspan, whereas the eagle has a larger, 6 - 7 foot wingspan.

Also their beaks are very much smaller and less powerful, more hawk-like. They are not intended for heavy duty work and are only able to deal with insects, small birds and carrion.

The Buzzard's habit of sitting on fence posts and gates, allows them to be easily spotted and very easily misidentified by the tourists. Hence, it has been given the colloquial name of 'tourist eagle.'

No self respecting Scottish eagle would be seen sitting on a fencepost or a gate and they very rarely come close to the ground at all.

You will see and hear many of the local buzzards around the Garrique cottage. Unfortunately, you will have to travel a little further north to find a Golden Eagle but it is well worth trying to catch a glimpse of these marvellous birds.

Consult the local Forestry Commission Scotland or the RSPB in Scotland for the best locations.

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