During the 1960s and 70s Buzzards were lost from many parts of the UK, mainly due to ongoing persecution, a crash in prey populations and poisonous pesticides.
Since then, a concerted effort by conservationists to increase public awareness and lobby for the banning of organochlorine pesticides led to a significant rise in Buzzard population size and range. They are now recolonizing many areas of the UK, as shown in our recent published research by Conservation Biologist Dr Matt Stevens, and Head of Conservation and Research, Dr Campbell Murn.
The research shows a growth in population size of Buzzards of more than 50 percent from 2011-2016, however this growth slowed dramatically in recent years, with a decline recorded from 2016-2017. Whilst the overall increase of these beautiful birds in our British countryside is fantastic news, the recent stalling in population growth highlights that they are still having a difficult time.
The population is lower than in mid-Wales and significantly lower than in similar habitat in central Europe so it is clear that there are factors limiting the population growth of Buzzards in Southern England. The factors putting pressure on Buzzard populations include illegal persecution, secondary poisoning from consumption of poisoned rodents, ingestion of spent lead ammunition, and reduced rabbit prey as a result of Viral Haemorrhagic Disease. It is also likely that there may have been an increase in illegal persecution in response to perceived predation pressures on game birds from increasing Buzzard abundance.