16 June 2015

Buzzard nest with a difference

We were contacted recently by Sam Bayley with the following fascinating story:

Early June marks the time when I check out a few of the many raptor nests that are present in my local area. After discovering three active Buzzard nests and a Kestrel nest I got a small team together including the invaluable help of tree climbers Max Varney and Sam Baker. The first two Buzzard nests and the Kestrel nest were very straightforward with broods of one and two Buzzards and a good brood of five Kestrels, but the third Buzzard nest at South Holmwood was something entirely different!

I had ringed this nest in 2014 when it contained three chicks and it was very typical with lots of evidence of rabbit unsurprisingly being the main food supply. It was very evident even from the base of the tree that this year was different, with a scattering of feathers on the ground below the nest. On reaching the nest Max and Sam found two Buzzard chicks and an unhatched egg surrounded by the remains of various species of bird. Buzzards will take birds, but only occasionally as they aren’t particularly adept at catching them and when they do it is usually limited to chicks or newly fledged birds. The species identifiable were Stock Dove (adult), Jackdaw (adult and nestling), Jay (newly fledged), Moorhen (adult), Great-spotted Woodpecker (adult) and a single Rabbit bone! It looked more like the contents of a Goshawk nest rather than a Buzzard’s, but obviously this pair had become incredibly proficient at catching these birds.

The two Buzzard chicks. Photo by Max Varney

If that wasn’t unusual enough, Max and Sam could hear another bird calling from the nest and eventually realised that it was a Jackdaw chick which was in its own nest within the structure of the Buzzard nest! The adult Jackdaws had created a tunnel into the side of the nest with a chamber at the end, less than 30cm below the cup of the nest! The Jackdaw chick was much younger than its Buzzard counterparts, so I can only assume that the Jackdaws started nesting after the Buzzards were already in residence. 

The entrance to the Jackdaw nest. The two Buzzard chicks
are just visible in the top of the nest. Photo by Max Varney

The Jackdaw chick. Photo by Sam Bayley

Only an end of nesting visit will tell whether they all survive!

1 comment: