During the summer, I would often see at least one Jackal Buzzard (Buteo rufufuscus) in the area around town – once one perched on a lamp post in the street below our home. This is not surprising as they are endemic to the southern part of Africa. It is a large, heavy bird with striking black, chestnut, and white patterning that makes it stand out from some of the many raptors in the area.
In common with other raptors, it is frequently observed on prominent lookout perches, such as dead trees, fence posts, telephone poles as well as rocks. They sit very still while searching for prey, but tend to take off as soon as a vehicle approaches along the road – and are beautiful to see in flight.
Although I have seen them swooping down to catch their prey, today is the first time that I have seen one on the ground from only a short distance away.
Jackal Buzzards are known to feed on small mammals up to the size of a hare, as well as on lizards, snakes, and smaller birds. When one flew low over my garden earlier this year the birds disappeared into the trees and shrubbery in a flash – and didn’t make a sound! They are known to scavenge on carrion too when food is scarce. This one is feeding on a Scrub Hare that must have been killed by a passing vehicle during the night.
I imagine is was very hungry, for it didn’t move when the vehicle stopped and allowed me to observe it for several minutes, during which time I noticed its mate flying low overhead.