Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Buzzard

BUZZARD, a word derived from the Latin fiutco, through the French Busard, and used in a general sense for a large group of Diurnal Birds-of-prey, which contains, among many others, the species usually known as the Common Buzzard (Buteo vufgaris, Leach), though the English epithet is now-a-days hardly applicable. The name Buzzard, however, belongs quite as rightfully to the birds called in books " Harriers," which form a distinct subfamily of Falconidce under the title Circince, and by it one species, the Moor-Buzzard (Circus cemyinosus), is still known in such places as it inhabits. " Puttock " is also another name used in some parts of the country, but per haps is rather a synonym of the Kite (Milvus ictinus). Though ornithological writers are almost unanimous in dis tinguishing the Buzzards as a group from the Eagles, the grounds usually assigned for their separation are but slight, and the diagnostic character that can be best trusted is probably that in the former the bill is decurved from the base, while in the latter it is for about a third of its length straight. The head, too, in the Buzzards is short and round, while in the Eagles it is elongated. In a general way Buzzards are smaller than Eagles, though there are several exceptions to this statement, and have their plumage more mottled. Furthermore, most if not all of the Buzzards, about which anything of the kind is with certainty known, assume their adult dress at the first moult, while the Eagles take a longer time to reach maturity. The Buzzards are fine-looking birds, but are slow and heavy of flight, so that in the old days of falconry they were regarded with infinite scorn, and hence in common English to call a man " a buzzard " is to denounce him as stupid. Their food consists of small mammals, young birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects, particularly beetles, and thus they never could havs been very injurious to the gamepreserver, though they have fallen under his ban, if indeed they were not really his friends, but ab the present day they are so scarce that in this country their effect, whatever it may be, is inappreciable. Buzzards are found over the whole world with the exception of the Australian region, and have been split into many genera by systematists. In the British Islands we have two species, one resident (the B. vidgaris already mentioned), and now almost confined to a few wooded districts; the other the Rough-legged Buzzard (Archibuteo lagopw), an irregular winter-visitant, sometimes arriving in large bands from the north of Europe, and readily distinguishable from the former by being feathered down to the toes. The HoneyBuzzard (Pernis apivorus), a summer-visitor from the south, and breeding, or attempting to breed, yearly in the New Forest, does not come into the subfamily Buteonince, but is probably the type of a distinct group, Pernince, of which there are other examples in Africa and Asia. (a. n.)