Buzzard in my kitchen

Published by: Purple witch on 19th Feb 2018 | View all blogs by Purple witch


Last  evening  my son and I were  driving the 2 miles to  our  local  wildlife  beach when we spotted a large  bird laying on the opposite side of the road .

As we were going one way in our car, another vehicle was on the other side coming towards us. It passed over the top of the bird , but  luckily it was laid between the wheels.

 We  both looked at the bird ; then each other  as we went by.

 My Son said “ Ohhh mum, it’s still alive.  We’ve  gotta  check it.” We did a swift  U-turn and  went back.

 The bird was wobbling about and totally dazed. At  least  eighteen inches long from beak to tail tip, it was not  overly large,  but  not small either,  and definitely  not  the kind of  wildlife you should handle.  

 We  couldn't leave there so I took off my hoodie, and  wrapped it round the poor thing, sat it on my  lap in the car, and my  son drove us home. The bird   hardly  moved at all which  was  lucky for me as  its  claws and feet  were the size of my  little finger and its beak was lethal. We  guessed it was  a buzzard.

 We were not  hopeful: It looked  bad.

 At home, we put  it in a very large box, closed the lid, and covered it in a towel.  We phoned around to see who was  open and who might be able to help us.

 The RSPCA   told us ….call your local vets. The vets were unreachable and so was the local  wildlife centre  so we left  the box covered in the towel in the kitchen overnight.

 I really did not expect it to survive the night.

 Google images of  buzzards confirmed we were right. That was the bird in our box. It looked  young though.  


 This morning I missed usual early cuppa of the day, as I did not want to disturb my  visitor more than necessary. I stayed out of the kitchen until it was  time to move the box.

 There was no noise at all and I was convinced there was  going to be a sad  outcome.

 My  daughter in law, Kate, is a  veterinary  nurse and turned up to take a look. She brought a large  cat  basket , which would make transporting the  bird more secure.

 Her ‘look’  consisted of a  brief  glance through the gap in the  lid.There was  no  way we were  going to be able  to  transfer it from cardboard to cat box.

 The bird was so feisty we  decided to leave it where it was. Even in a box there was  no way it  was going to  sit quietly on my  lap  now.  It was  a cheeping,  feather-ball, of beak and claws: And so strong we had to put a house brick on the  lid flaps to keep it from jumping out.   

 We could see it could jump, but had no real idea if  its  wings and feathers were all right. Opening the box fully was not going to be an option; if it got out  we  were  nevergoing to get it back in.We needed expert help.

 Luckily, the  local vet gave us an emergency  appointment. I  filled out the  usual paperwork  and  named the bird Buzz. We  agreed  if it  was  fit enough we  would  release near to where we found it.

 After a five minute once over, the vet declared Buzz fit and able to fly.  He  had  also seen a  buzzard  a few days ago  who had  flown into  barbed  wire . Sadly that one  was  in  need  of  much  TLC and  recuperation.

  Our Buzz had fared  much better.

 A  last year’s hatchling  about  7/8 months old, Buzz had probably  flown into power lines as there were some close to where it had come down: Or it  may have  skimmed the shrubby hedge and  flown into the side of  a  car.  Whatever had happened , it was a very  lucky  buzzard.

 In  fields opposite where Buzz had fallen onto the road, we set the box  down and removed the brick. Before the  towel was fully  peeled back, Buzz had pushed the flap open hopped out and in mid hop had  taken off making a low flying  circuit of the field. A second, higher, circuit later and Buzz disappeared over the hedges and was gone.

 What a special moment watching that flight,and such a  good  feeling helping local wildlife . Especially one so  stunning.  

 I feel  very privileged to have been so close to  a beautiful, wild, bird of  prey  and extremely glad it  was able to fly, and continue to be  wild too.

 I’m feeling rather smug too - How  many people  can  say  they've had a buzzard sleepover in their kitchen?



  • Seagreen
    by Seagreen 1 month ago
    I love that you stopped and that there was a happy outcome to this. Lucky bird indeed :-)
  • Janeshuff
    by Janeshuff 1 month ago
    Buzz definitely lucked out having you pass by!
  • Little Wol
    by Little Wol 1 month ago
    Good for you PW!
  • Scheherazade
    by Scheherazade 1 month ago
    What a lovely story. Cheered me up on a monday morning
  • Caducean Whisks
    by Caducean Whisks 1 month ago
    What a heart-warming story! So glad you turned back and helped. Well done, you, and your son. In fact, three cheers!
    FYI, most vets will treat injured wildlife for free - and know the whereabouts of a local rescue centre if it needs on-going care.
    Hope it flies long and free.
  • Penworthy
    by Penworthy 1 month ago
    How lovely to be so close to such a bird and be able to help it. Well done.
  • RichardB
    by RichardB 1 month ago
    Yes, a lovely story.

    We get quite a lot of buzzards here, and as a bonus (and, for me, a blessing) the occasional kite.

    I have an acquaintance, a one-time wildlife photographer, who wouldn't have needed to Google. I was once with him when he suddenly said 'There's a buzzard over there.' I looked where he was pointing and saw a moving speck, a good mile away and low down near the horizon. He was totally confident in his identification: no doubt at all.
  • Kate
    by Kate 1 month ago
    Well done PW. I've picked up a stunned kestrel before, but a buzzard, that must have been something else. Good on you.
  • Daedalus
    by Daedalus 1 month ago
    Bless you Pw. Great to hear a story that ends so well. Buzzards do a lot better than in my childhood, I believe due to various harmful farming practices and the activities of gamekeepers being restricted over the years. I was 15 before I saw my first buzzard, during a charity hike in North Devon in 1991, when I'm told there were fewer than 1,000 breeding pairs. Now they are a regular sight around the village where I grew up. Must have been a special experience to encounter one up close, and to know you probably saved its life.

    I'm less surprised by the RSPCA to be honest. My own experience with them suggests they're not all that bothered about reports of injured or sick wildlife. Local wildlife rescue projects etc seem to be much more willing to help. Good to know that vets will often help too, for future reference.
  • RichardB
    by RichardB 1 month ago
    The biggest threat to birds of prey in the fifties and sixties was the widespread use of now-banned pesticides such as DDT. Since they were at the top of the food chain, the stuff used to accumulate in their bodies, causing infertility and other woes. Several species, like the peregrine, were pushed to the edge of extinction, but have thankfully recovered since.

    The kite, aided by re-introductions, has made an even more spectacular recovery from its one-time low of fewer than two dozen birds (all, according to DNA studies, descended from just one female) in Mid-Wales. Sitting in my nephew's garden in Oxford a couple of years ago I saw eight in the sky at once.

    What gamekeepers used to get up to in earlier times was so ironic that it would be funny if it were not so tragic. Slaughtering all manner of predators, some of which they managed to exterminate entirely, in order to protect a select few other species - so that a tiny privileged minority could go out and kill them for fun.

    But if the hoi-polloi killed said species so they could eat, they were called poachers and prosecuted. In the nineteenth century the standard sentence was transportation to Australia.

    'Come all you gallant poachers who ramble free from care
    That walk out on a moonlit night with your dog, your gun and snare
    The harmless hare and pheasant you have at your command
    Not thinking of your last career out on Van Diemen's Land.'

    Hey ho. Funny old world.
  • Daedalus
    by Daedalus 1 month ago
    Indeed. I gather the White Tailed Eagle is still in trouble as a result of these criminals. Perhaps if game shooting for sport is still causing such problems, we should ban it along with hunting.

    Kites are amazing. I first saw one about ten years ago (I was interviewing a gentleman about WW2 radio equipment when I saw out the window the biggest raptor I'd ever laid eyes on landing in his garden. Turns out that wasn't at all uncommon) and heading anywhere West or North out of Southampton these days virtually guarantees sight of them. In my youth I wondered if I'd ever see a peregrine, and now I've seen several in the last eight or nine years.
  • Aonghus Fallon
    by Aonghus Fallon 1 month ago
    Buzzards died out in Ireland some time in the Fifties - I was always told that this was due to Myxomatosis (ie, that this killed off the rabbits in such large numbers, it also killed off their main foodsupply). That said, we were pretty casual re our use of insecticides etc. The first time I saw one was while on a holiday in France. Later I saw four on a power line above a busy intersection in the UK (I know, I know - good vibrations etc). Around ten years years ago a work colleague described a bird near him (up in Monaghan) that sounded like a buzzard. I googled and found out there were around eight breeding pairs in Ireland at that time, Monaghan being one location. A few years later a hunter in my local bar said he'd seen some up near me. Of course Mr Know-All (ie, my good self) had to disagree (Wicklow wasn't one of the listed locations) and we ended up betting 50 euro on who was right. Alas, subsequent investigations revealed that buzzards have been emigrating from the UK to Ireland in droves recently, either being carried by warm Easterly air currents from Wales or because things were getting a bit crowded over on your side of the Irish Sea. Another recent arrival is the woodpecker - I've seen at least three of them down at my parents' birdfeeders.
  • Daedalus
    by Daedalus 1 month ago
    Fantastic! Green or spotted woodpeckers? Great either way. Makes total sense that buzzards would cross the Irish Sea, I hope that recovery is sustained. You can have a few Red Kites, too, if you put in a good word for us with the rest of the 27 ;-)
  • Aonghus Fallon
    by Aonghus Fallon 1 month ago
    Greater spotted. Still a slightly surreal experience - ie, seeing an unfamiliar bird in a familiar setting. I'm still sceptical that they flew across the Irish Sea (or were carried by warm easterly breezes) given their size and the fact that they aren't great fliers, and there was talk about introducing them (which makes it very convenient that they turned up when they did) but who knows?

    Re the 27. You lot were our best allies when it came to negotiating with the mainland. Can't see us packing the same sort of clout now! :(
  • Daedalus
    by Daedalus 1 month ago
    Yes, they strike me as very much a short hop from tree to tree kind of flyer. Great if a reintroduction is working out. I've seen a green woodpecker in my parents' garden in Essex, and lesser spotteds in other places - not sure I've ever seen a greater spotted.
  • Lizzielion
    by Lizzielion 1 month ago
    Aren’t buzzards wonderful? Every Friday morning, as I wend my way to Beverley through the East Yorkshire countryside, I wait to spot a buzzard who uses the hedges along the road as a place to watch the world go by. Most days, he’s there, imperious and imposing. Seeing him sets up my day.
  • Jill
    by Jill 1 month ago
    Lovely blog, Purple Witch. No, can't say I've had a buzzard in my kitchen, but smaller birds do seem to like our house and wander or fly in to stay for a while, sometimes when we are on holiday! The smallest was a sweet wren and the encounter so moved me that I wrote a poem about it.
  • mike
    by mike 1 month ago
    Dear Richard,
    That was my experience. I once went ob a walking holiday and there were twitchers in the party.. Onr would exclaim, 'Look, there's a lesser spotted - its red breast etc," and all I could reply is 'Where's the bird?"
    There is a sad poster on some local trees. :£10,000 reward for information about someone who is decapitiig local foxes and cats. It happened to my neighbours as a cat had been deposited in their front garden. The police asked if I had seen anything. but I could not help/
  • Dragon Lady
    by Dragon Lady 25 days ago
    Now that is a good idea for a story: Someone mysteriously decapitating local foxes and cats? Why? How intriguing!

    And how wonderful that you were able to save the buzzard Purple Witch! We recently had a poorly fox in the garden. Beautiful thing. Looked completely healthy. Until it stood up. Then it wobbled like a jelly on a jackhammer. The RSPCA actually did come out to us. They caught it and asked if they could come back to release it if it survived, but we've not heard anything so, unlike your wonderful buzzard, I doubt our fox has been as lucky :-(
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