Buzzard Vs Hawk

Buzzard Vs Hawk: A Detailed Comparison

When it comes to birds of prey, buzzards and hawks are two of the most commonly encountered species. While they may look quite similar at first glance, there are some distinct differences between these two birds. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the buzzard vs hawk debate, comparing their physical traits, hunting techniques, and behavior.

Physical Traits

Buzzards and hawks have similar body shapes and are about the same size, with a wingspan of around 4 feet. However, there are some key physical differences between the two. Buzzards are generally broader and flatter than hawks, with a more rounded head and a shorter tail. They also have a distinctive ‘V’ shape in their wings when they’re gliding, which is a trait not found in hawks.

Hawks, on the other hand, are slimmer and more streamlined than buzzards. They have a longer tail that acts as a rudder, helping them navigate during flight. Their wings are also more pointed and swept back, providing a more efficient and aerodynamic shape for hunting.

Another key difference between buzzards and hawks is their coloration. Buzzards have a much wider range of color variations, including browns, yellows, and greys. They also have a distinct white belly with dark stripes, which is not seen in hawks. Hawks, on the other hand, are generally a single color, with some variation in shades of brown or grey. They typically have darker feathers on their backs and wings, and lighter feathers on their bellies.

Behavior and Habitat

Buzzards and hawks are both found in a wide range of habitats, including forests, grasslands, deserts, and even urban areas. However, buzzards tend to be more adaptable to different environments than hawks. They’re often seen perched on fence posts or tree branches, scanning the ground for prey. They’re also known to scavenge on carrion or garbage, making them a common sight near landfills or areas with high human activity.

Hawks, on the other hand, are more specialized hunters. They’re known for their incredible vision and hunting skills, and will often fly high above the ground, scanning for prey. They have specially adapted talons and beaks for catching and killing their prey, which is usually small mammals, birds, or reptiles. Hawks are also fiercely territorial, often defending their hunting grounds from other birds of prey.

Hunting Techniques

Both buzzards and hawks use a variety of techniques to catch their prey. Buzzards are opportunistic hunters and will take advantage of any available food source. They’ll often sit and wait for their prey to come to them, then swoop down and catch it in their talons. They may also hunt by circling above the ground, searching for movement or the scent of nearby prey.

Hawks, on the other hand, are much more active hunters. They’re known for their incredible speed, agility, and precision when hunting. They’ll often fly high above the ground, searching for prey below. Once they spot their target, they’ll dive down and grab it with their talons. Hawks have incredibly sharp talons and beaks, which allow them to quickly and efficiently kill their prey.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can buzzards and hawks be kept as pets?

A: It’s illegal to keep wild birds of prey as pets in most countries. Even if it were legal, both buzzards and hawks require a specialized diet and habitat that would be difficult to replicate in a domestic setting.

Q: How can you tell if a bird is a buzzard or a hawk?

A: The easiest way to tell buzzards and hawks apart is by their physical traits. Buzzards are broader and flatter than hawks, with a more rounded head and a shorter tail. They also have a V-shaped profile in their wings when gliding, which hawks do not. Additionally, buzzards have a distinctive white belly with dark stripes, while hawks are generally a single color.

Q: Are buzzards and hawks a threat to humans?

A: Neither buzzards nor hawks pose a significant threat to humans. While they are capable of inflicting injury with their talons and beaks, they generally avoid confrontation with people and will retreat if threatened.

Q: Do buzzards and hawks migrate?

A: Some species of buzzards and hawks are migratory, while others are non-migratory. Migratory species will travel long distances to breed and feed, while non-migratory species will remain in the same area year-round.


While buzzards and hawks may look similar at first glance, there are some significant differences between these two birds of prey. Buzzards are more adaptable and opportunistic hunters, while hawks are specialized hunters with incredible vision and precision. Both birds play an important role in their respective ecosystems and are a fascinating part of the natural world.