Buzzard Nesting: A Complete Guide

Buzzard Nesting: A Complete Guide

Buzzards are common sights across Wales, Scotland, the Lake District and the South West of England. However, there are successful breeding pairs in every county in the UK now, which is really exciting.

One thing that buzzards need to breed is a nest, so below, we have a complete guide to buzzard nesting. The nesting habits of buzzards are very interesting, as we'll see throughout this article.

Where do buzzards nest?

Buzzards normally nest in trees in woodland areas. They prefer to build their nests high up, between 10-80 feet off of the floor.

Most buzzards will pick a nesting site near the trunk of the tree or in a strong fork of a tree. This is because they build rather large nests and need a stable platform for them. However, there are some buzzards that nest on rocky cliffs instead of trees.

Key Buzzard Nesting Facts
Nesting seasonMarch to July
Nesting materialTwigs and branches, lined with moss, heather and leaves
Nest typeLarge and bulky
Nest locationHigh up in trees
Number of broodsOne
Clutch size2 - 5 eggs
Egg colourCreamy white with brown flecks
Egg size55 x 44 mm
Egg weight60 g
Incubation period34 days, mainly by the female, but males will help too
Fledgling period44 - 52 days
Reuse nestsSame territory, but not usually the same nest
Use nest boxesNo, but possibly a nesting platform
The nest of a common buzzard in the forest, with eggs inside

The nest of a common buzzard in the forest, with eggs inside

What do buzzard nests look like?

A buzzard's nest is quite large, one of the largest in the UK. The nest is built by both birds. Newly built buzzard nests are about 1 metre in diameter and 60cm deep. They are thick and bulky nests, with the birds using twigs and branches for the overall structure. They will then use moss, heather and leaves to line the inside of the nest.

Buzzard's nests often don't have a cup-like shape to them. Instead, they are more of a large platform with a small space in the middle that is lined with soft material for the eggs.

Buzzards can reuse nests from previous years. If they do, they will tend to the nest before the eggs arrive, repairing any damage and preparing it for their chicks. They will add more layers of sticks and twigs to the outside, and this can mean that reused nests are 1.5 metres in diameter.

Buzzard nest, with three young buzzard chicks inside

Buzzard nest, with three young buzzard chicks inside

What time of year do buzzards nest?

Buzzards nest from mid-March to July. They will often lay their eggs in April, but this can happen in late March as well. It takes about 50-55 days for the chicks to fledge once they have hatched, but the baby buzzards will stick with their parents for up to 8 weeks after they have fledged.

How long do buzzards nest for?

Buzzards nest for about six months of the year. It is a very long process for buzzards to raise their young.

The female buzzard lays 2-4 eggs each year at three-day intervals. This begins in later March, early April. She then incubates the eggs for 33-35 days, and the eggs hatch at two-day intervals. After they have the baby buzzards, it will take them around 50-55 days to fledge.

However, once the babies have fledged, the parents will still take care of them for a further 6-8 weeks. During this time, the parent buzzards will help them find food and continue using the nest. It is only when the baby buzzards have left the nesting area that the parents will leave as well.

A family of buzzards in the nest together

A family of buzzards in the nest together

How do buzzards build their nests?

Unlike many other bird species, both buzzards build their nest. If they are starting from scratch, they will gather sticks, branches and twigs once they have found a suitable place for their nest. They are looking for a strong fork in a tree or a stable place as near to the trunk as possible, about 10-80 feet high.

Once they find the perfect nesting location, they pile on the twigs and create a solid base for the nest. They will then line the very centre of the nest with softer material to protect the eggs. This can be moss, leaves and even feathers. As the chicks grow, the parents will often add more soft material to the middle of the nest for comfort.

If the buzzards are reusing a nest, they will repair it before the eggs arrive. This involves adding more sticks and branches to the outside and relining the middle of the nest. Reused buzzard's nests can be as big as 1.5 meters in diameter.

Buzzard in flight

Buzzard in flight

When do baby buzzards leave the nest?

Baby buzzards first leave the nest about 50-55 days after they have hatched. However, you may see them exploring the tree before this.

The baby buzzards aren't quite ready to say goodbye to mum and dad at this stage, though. They will continue to sleep in the nest for up to 6-8 weeks after they first fledge. And during this time, the adult buzzards will help the young find food.

How many broods do buzzards have?

Buzzards only have one brood per year which consists of 2-5 eggs.

The reason the buzzards only have one brood is that it takes a lot of time to raise their young. Some buzzards are in the nest, caring for their young, for about 4-6 months of the year.

They begin nesting in late March, and the chicks won't fledge until about June, but they won't leave the area straight away. Instead, the parents look after the baby buzzards for another 6-8 weeks after this.

Buzzard in flight

Buzzard in flight

Do buzzards nest in the same place every year?

Buzzards typically do nest in the same area. They have a nesting territory that will often have more than one nesting site in it. Usually, buzzards will build 1-3 nesting sites in their territory, but some have built up to 14 nests in one area.

What do buzzard eggs look like?

Buzzard eggs are a creamy colour with brown flecks all over them. They are about 55mm tall and 45mm wide. Occasionally, you'll see a beautiful buzzard egg with slightly purple colouring replacing the brown flecking.

Two buzzard eggs in the nest

Two buzzard eggs in the nest

What month do buzzards lay eggs?

Buzzards lay their eggs between April and May, and they will have 2-4 eggs during this time.

The eggs are laid in three-day intervals. Very occasionally, buzzards will lay their eggs in mid-March. And even more rare, buzzards can lay six eggs in one clutch. This doesn't happen very often, though.

Do buzzards use nest boxes?

Buzzards build their nests high in trees as this is the safest place for their young. They like to nest on stable platforms, so they build their nests in forks in large trees. As a result, buzzards don't tend to use nesting boxes.

They like to have long lines of sight from their nest, which sadly isn't possible with a nesting box.

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