Jackal Buzzard Buteo rufofuscus
South Africa, December 2006
The Jackal Buzzard is an endemic to south-west Africa (South Africa, Lesotho, and Swaziland, Namibia, and marginally into Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique), and is closely related to the similar and more northerly Augur Buzzard. Both are clearly members of the buteo group of raptors that includes the Eurasian Common Buzzard Buteo buteo and the North American Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis.
Small ground mammals make up about 65% of the diet, but snakes, lizards, small ground birds, insects, and road-kill are also taken. Typically, the raptor drops on its prey after ‘hanging’ on an updraft, from a hover, or from a perch.
Jackal Buzzards prefer mountainous and hilly terrain, with the majority of nests being built on cliffs. Interestingly they also typically nest on a variety of artificial structures, including electricity pylons and telephone poles, particularly in Namaqualand. It breeds from late-winter to early-summer throughout its range. Large nestlings have been observed in the nest on telephone poles in the Springbok-Vioolsdrift area during November and December.
These birds were all photographed along the R355 Karoopoort to Calvinia road in the western part of the Karoo (one of my favourite birding sites – for a trip-report (with plenty of photos) go to The Tanqua Karoo in December).
The R355 Karoopoort to Calvinia
All photos copyright Charlie Moores. 2007