Augur Buzzard

Augur Buzzard

Details About The Augur Buzzard

  • General Information

    The Augur Buzzard is a well equipped soaring hawk, with a compact body, long broad wings, and a medium, fan-shaped tail. The belly and chest are all white with specks of gray. With the exception of the tail, the rest of the body is slate-gray with white specks. The tail is a rusty red, very similar to that of the American Red-tailed Hawk. The beak is yellow up to the end, where it turns gray. Most females have black bibs on their throats, as compared to the solid white throats of the males. As a juvenile, the Augur Buzzard is white with streaked or blotched blackish-brown plumage and a somewhat barred tail. Adult plumage is obtained at about one and a half years of age. There is a melanistic form of this bird that is all black, except for gray and black-barred flight feathers and a chestnut tail. About 10% of the birds are melanistic, but this proportion can rise to as much as 50% in some forested areas with high rainfall.

    Latin Name: Buteo augur
    Class: Aves
    Order: Falconiformes
    Family: Accipitridae
    Length: 22-24 inches
    Weight: 40-48 ounces
    Wingspan: 31-35 inches
    Common Name: African Red-tailed Hawk
    Etymology: buteo (Latin) - "kind of falcon or hawk"; augur (Latin) - "a prophet or diviner"

  • Flight, Voice & Habitat

    A soaring hawk, these birds also have the uncommon ability to hang motionless in the air as they ride a strong wind coming off a hillcrest.

    The call is a loud kow in sets of 3-5.

    They typically live in mountains, hilly areas, and sometimes in open woodland, savannas or grasslands. Their habitat is regularly between 5,000 and 12,000 feet, and they have been seen soaring as high as 17,000 feet, which is well above the soaring height of other African birds of prey. They will, however, approach sea level in the Cape area.

  • Nesting

    The Augur Buzzard's reeding cycle begins at the end of winter. Nests are large, built from sticks, and found on ledges of cliffs or occasionally in a tall tree, between the months of May and August. Two eggs are laid by the female in August or September. The first egg hatches about 40-45 days later, with the second egg following 1-2 days later. With rare exceptions, the younger chick dies within a few days due to sibling aggression. Fledging for the remaining chick begins at about 30 days old, and first flight occurs normally around 50 days old.

  • Distribution

    The Augur Buzzard is commonly found in the highlands and plains of East Africa, especially in Zimbabwe and central Namibia northwards to southern Tanzania. They are occasionally seen in the central African plains. They are non-migratory birds.

  • Food

    The diet of the Augur Buzzard consists mainly of reptiles, typically lizards and snakes. They will occasionally eat rodents, small birds, insects, and carrion. Their most common hunting method is to hang motionless in the air, riding a strong wind off a hillcrest. This hawk will pounce on food from a rock or tree perch or will sometimes stoop from hovering, soaring, or gliding flight.

  • Current Resident Birds

    Harriet, the Augur Buzzard (or Red-tailed Hawk of Africa), is a veteran of two other noted aviaries, the World Bird Sanctuary and SIA: The Comanche Nation, Native to Africa, her dark plumage is not typical of this species, but is a result of a genetic condition known as "melanism." Harriet was named for the mother in law of a former Carolina Raptor Center board member.

  • Fun Facts & Other Interesting Information

    The Augur Buzzard is a native of Africa and is closely related to the US's Red-tailed Hawk. In the US, a vulture is called a "buzzard," confusing! Vulture - Buzzard - Hawk? You decide.

    The Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League currently use an Augur Buzzard (the African Red-tailed Hawk) named "Taima" as a live mascot at games.