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Posts Tagged ‘red-tailed hawk’

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I set out some chicken gizzards and hearts for the local carnivorans, and when they didn’t come by, the “carrion birds” had a picnic in the hard November frost.

The title of this post is “Buzzard wars,” and if you are looking for something that looks like a vulture, then I know you’re an American. For some odd reason, we Americans decided to call New World vultures, which are mostly obligate scavengers, “buzzards.”  Almost all other hawks in the genus Buteo are called “buzzards.”

It is certainly true that there are no Old World vultures native to the British Isles, and it’s also true that New World and Old World vultures aren’t that closely related. (How closely related they are is still a hot debate).

However, I think I would have called the red-tailed hawk “the red-tailed buzzard.” I mean look at them! These birds are known in England, and one would think that the first time they saw a red-tailed hawk, the colonists would realize they are so similar to each other.

It is just another example of how our naming of wildlife on this continent is so screwy.

In this video, you will see a red-shouldered hawk (Buteo lineatus), a red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), and several crows compete over some chicken livers.  Crows fear large hawks and often mob them to drive them off. They also compete over carrion, which will happen more and more often now that the turkey vultures have started to move south.

I will warn you that one of these hawks makes a sound that might make you jump a bit. It’s not exactly expected when it happens!

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Or being jerks about it:

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One of my little pet peeves about the American English language is the use of the term “buzzard.”

Buzzard is a word that is almost always applied to New World vultures, but this application is not correct.

In the strictest sense, buzzard is a term that applies to the hawks in the genus Buteo.  In Eurasia, there is a species called the common buzzard, which looks almost exactly like a red-tailed hawk.

This particular redtail was hanging out on the telephone lines.

Before I snapped this photo, there were two of them. The other was much larger, and it had to have been the female of the pair.

This male hawk has a darker breast than most of his species in this area. Red-tailed hawks vary greatly in appearance, but around these parts, they are the only birds of prey that are this size, which makes them pretty easy to identify.

 

 

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