Opinion Former Article

RSPCA: Buzzard chick successfully smuggled into new foster family

A baby buzzard, who probably fell out of his nest in a high wind, has been successfully smuggled into another buzzard family’s nest to be brought up as one of their own.

This was a joint operation involving our wildlife experts at the RSPCA’s Stapeley Grange wildlife centre who took care of the chick, RSPB officers who rescued him and groups working for Natural England and the British Ornithological Trust who identified a suitable foster family.

Buzzard Lightyear (Buzz for short) was less than two weeks old when he was discovered at the foot of an enormously tall Scots pine on the wooded slopes of the RSPB nature reserve at Lake Vyrnwy on the Welsh/Shropshire border.

It was just after five o’clock on a windy afternoon at the end of May when RSPB warden Jimmy Carter was searching for the nest of a Spotted Flycatcher rarely seen at the reserve. Climbing up the steep, tree-covered slopes that surround the lake he came across Buzz calling for help in the leaf litter at the bottom of a tree. 

The tiny creature had survived a fall of 25 metres uninjured – a height equivalent to four adult giraffes balancing carefully on each others’ heads!. 

Jimmy Carter said: “The tree was on a one in three slope and the buzzard nest was a long way from the trunk. I had no way of getting Buzz back in the nest and was aware that he was going to face a lot of natural predators as night fell.”

Buzz was taken home and fed cooked chicken and collected the next day by RSPCA Inspector Phil Lewis who fashioned a temporary nest for the chick to make him feel secure in the box: 

“He was amazingly unharmed from his 70 feet fall - young chicks are very flexible and he probably bounced as he fell into the soft, leaf litter which would have absorbed some of the impact.” 

Staff at the RSPCA’s Stapeley Grange wildlife centre raised him until a new foster family was found by the Peak Raptor Monitoring Group (1). 

Maxine Bland, a raptor expert at Stapeley, said: “Buzz was slipped into the nest in Derbyshire a week ago and we can now report that the operation was a success and he has been accepted by his new foster parents who only had one chick to care for and now have two.

“We know he is doing well because members of the Raptor Group have been monitoring the nest from a distance.

“Buzzards, like most birds of prey, will happily rear young from another species as long as the chick is at the same stage of development as their own.”




For copies of the pictures please contact the national Press office .

We are calling Buzz a ‘he’ but there is no way of telling at this stage whether he is male or female apart from genetic testing.

(1) The Peak District Raptor Monitoring Group, are a group of volunteer field workers who,under licence from the British Trust for Ornithology and Natural England, monitor and ring birds of prey and owls in the Peak District and surrounding areas.

RSPCA, Wilberforce Way, Southwater, Horsham, West Sussex RH13 9RS 

Press office direct lines: 0300 123 0244/0288 Fax: 0303 123 0099
Duty press officer (evenings and weekends) Tel 08448 222888 and ask for pager number 828825
Email: press@rspca.org.uk Website: www.rspca.org.uk

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