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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 November 2005, 12:24 GMT
Buzzards become birds about town
Buzzard/RSPB
The buzzard population has been spreading across Scotland
Buzzards have begun to breed and live in some of Scotland's most densely populated areas.

RSPB Scotland said the return reflected an increase in numbers over the past decade thanks to a reduction in poisoning and trapping.

The "telegraph pole eagles" can now be found within the city boundaries of both Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Raptor experts believe buzzards have overtaken the kestrel as Scotland's most numerous bird of prey.

Buzzards have gradually expanded from the confines of the west and become more evenly distributed throughout eastern farmland areas, as well as colonising towns and cities.

This movement into the urban areas is simply part of the wider spread into vacant territories
Mark Holling
Scottish Raptor Monitoring Group

Duncan Orr-Ewing, head of land use policy at RSPB Scotland, said: "Across Europe, where buzzards breed unmolested, they occur within large towns and can live comfortably at very high densities of about a pair to every square kilometre.

"The potential for a further increase is still quite high, and we should feel privileged that so many people now have the opportunity to see such a fantastic and beautiful species close to our homes.

"It really is a cause for celebration."

Nesting sites

He said that in Scotland, particularly in the south west, the buzzard was known as the "telegraph pole eagle" or sometimes the "tourist eagle" as it was sometimes mistaken for its larger cousin.

Mark Holling, a representative of the Scottish Raptor Monitoring Group, said sightings within the city boundary were now quite frequent and there had been a number of nesting attempts.

Buzzard/RSPB
Buzzards are thriving after a reduction in trapping

He added: "This movement into the urban areas is simply part of the wider spread into vacant territories, but it is really exciting that they feel comfortable enough to live without feeling threatened in close association with humans."

RSPB Scotland believes the population increase signals the need for a new national census of their numbers.

In 1983 it was estimated that there were between 4,500 and 6,500 breeding pairs in Scotland.

In 2001, a new national population estimate suggested that there were up to 61,000 territorial pairs in the UK, of which Scotland had a significant proportion.


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