The Jackal Buzzard
, Buteo rufofuscus rufofuscus
is endemic to Southern Africa.
It is strikingly coloured as an adult. The drabber, lighter-coloured juveniles are often confused with the related Steppe buzzards.
It is widely distributed throughout its range, but is generally found in mountainous country and open plains if there are hills or escarpments nearby and in forested areas with nearby open spaces. It is resident and non-migratory throughout its range, even its food supply related movements are restricted and localised. Large view
When hunting it pounces or drops on prey from a perch, or from a hover. It can make graceful, controlled descents with wings held high over the back, dropping suddenly on the prey at the last minute. It is often unsuccessful in a hunt. I watched the bird photographed here as it moved from perch to perch where it would sit for a short while observing its surroundings, spot potential prey up to 50 m away then rapidly glide to and pounce on the prey animal. During the time I watched the bird, it failed four times to make a catch, succeeding at the fifth attempt to latch onto a snake. Large view Large view
The diet of Jackal Buzzard consists mainly of small ground mammals (about 2/3), but snakes, lizards, small ground birds like larks and pipits, insects and road-kill are also taken.
Pairs have noisy aerial displays, including outside the breeding season. It breeds from late-winter to early-summer throughout its range. A stick nest up to 1 m in diameter is built in a tree or on a ledge and is often reused and enlarged in subsequent seasons. Two off-white eggs are laid and incubated by the female only, although food is brought to her on the nest by the male. Sometimes she leaves the nest to fend for herself.
The eggs hatch in about 40 days and after a further 46-51 days the birds fledge. Shortly afterward they become independent of the nest, but young birds may then be seen with the adult pair for some time.