Lizard Buzzard

The Lizard Buzzard is named because it hunts and kills Lizards. But as we will learn later it eats all manner of prey too. We have always had a resident Lizard Buzzard inside our lodge grounds. I would watch him from our Bantaba. He sits high up in a Palm tree patiently waiting for an unsuspecting Agama or Mabuya Lizard to come along. They have crazy good eyesight and once they see their prey it’s unlikely it will be lucky enough to survive its encounter with this Bird of Prey. It drops like a jet from the treetops at incredible speed and stops just before crashing to the ground with its talons extended and ready to grasp its meal.

Gambia photography | Gambian wildlife
Lizard
Lizard Buzzard
Lizard Buzzard

Where is the bird found?

I’m happy to say the Lizard Buzzard is found at Footsteps all year round. See our guided bird-watching trips

Outside of our lodge, it is found in Sub-Saharan Africa from Eritrea to northeastern South Africa. It remains common in West Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and northeastern areas of Namibia, Botswana and South Africa. Its preferred habitat is moist dense savannah woodland especially miombo woodland, forest edges and wooded margins of rivers. It is also found, especially in winter, in arid thornbush in savannah areas of East and Central Africa. Source Wikipedia

In Gambia this bird of prey is widespread and generally fairly common in forest interiors.

What does it look like?

The lizard buzzard is 35–37 cm in length with a wingspan of about 80 cm. Males are slightly smaller than their female counterparts and weigh around 250 g with females weighing around 300 g. The head and breast are grey. They have a distinctive vertical black line on their white throat, which distinguishes them from all other raptors. Their belly is white with fine dark horizontal barring and their underwings are white with dark tips. Their eyes are dark reddish-brown to black and the tail is black with a white tip and single white stripe. Legs are orange-red.

What does it feed on?

Their diet consists of invertebrates, reptiles and mammals. Their most common preys are grasshoppers and termites and rodents are the most frequent. Reptiles favoured are as mentioned above, lizards especially Mabuya and Agama lizards, frogs and snakes.

Want to know an interesting Factoid?

The lizard buzzard is not closely related to buzzards but more closely to hawks.

How does it sound?

Lizard buzzards are loners and silent birds of prey. The only exception to this is during their breeding season in September and October when you will hear their distinctive whistle.  Klu, Klu, Klu.

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