Black-Breasted Buzzard Fact File
The black-breasted buzzard is the third largest bird of prey species found in Australia.
These birds have rufous feathers down the side of the body. As their name suggests the chest is colored black. A red crest of feathers is present on the head. The underwing is colored a stark, bright white at the tip.
Their wings stick out past the tail when they are at rest.
A series of long feathers are present on the nape and may be raised to form a short crest.
Black-breasted buzzards measure an average of 55cm (21.6in) long with an average weight of 1.3kg (2.9lbs). An average wingspan for this species is 155cm (61in) across. Females tend to be larger than males.
The black-breasted buzzard is a carnivore. Their diet includes mammals, birds and small reptiles. Carrion (dead animals) will also be consumed.
One of the best known habits of the black-breasted buzzard is their ability to crack open birds eggs to reach the food inside. They can crack the shells of emus, brolgas, bustards and other large birds.
This is achieved by taking a rock in their beak and throwing it at the shell repeatedly until it cracks.
These birds will engage in nest robbing where they take chicks from the nest of other birds to feed their chicks.
Food may be caught both on the ground or in the air.
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Australia is the native home of the black-breasted buzzard. Here they can be found across much of the country through Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and the Northern Territory.
They make their home in forests, savannas, shrublands, grasslands and deserts.
Breeding season for the black-breasted buzzard is variable by region. They nest from August to September in the South and center while it occurs from May to July in the North.
These birds build a stick nest which is flat and then lined with leaves. Nests can become rather large through being used year after year. Often nests are located in a tree which is along a waterway.
Females are responsible for all of the incubation duties. Typically only a single egg is laid and raised though up to three is possible. These are incubated for 40 days.
Fledging takes place 60 days after hatching. Both parents work together during this period to brood and feed the chicks.
Black-breasted buzzards are relatively quiet. While at the nest they will make a yelp or soft piping.
In parts of their range the black-breasted buzzard is considered migratory. These movements are primarily related to following rainfall.
Predators and Threats
Occasionally this species will be hit by cars while they are feeding on road kill.
These birds are currently considered to be widespread.
They are also known as the black-breasted kite.
The behavior of slamming eggs open with rocks is instinctive within these birds. They do not need to be taught it when born in captivity.
Black-breasted buzzards are one of the few birds which make use of tools. Another species which will perform this behavior is the Egyptian Vulture.
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Benjamint444, CC BY-SA 3.0 <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/>, via Wikimedia Commons
Morcombe, M., 2003. Field Guide To Australian Birds. Archerfield, Qld.: Steve Parish Pub.
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Crew, B., 2021. The black-breasted buzzard is Australia’s craftiest raptor. [online] Australian Geographic. Available at: <https://www.australiangeographic.com.au/blogs/creatura-blog/2018/11/the-black-breasted-buzzard-is-australias-craftiest-raptor/> [Accessed 27 April 2021].
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