Author: Madre du Plessis

20 June 2011

The Jackal Buzzard, as iconized in our logo, is endemic to southern Africa. It is the largest raptor that is resident on the Tygerberg Hills. It is not a secretive bird and can often be seen gliding on the thermals or soaring in the breeze. Sometimes these birds hang suspended in the air, just above the crest of the hill, keeping their position in the air with hardly any movement of their wings.

The Afrikaans name “Rooiborsjakkalsvoël” is descriptive because it refers to the red-brown plumage on the chest. The amount of red on the chest varies widely and can be used to identify individuals.

In flight it can easily be identified by its broad blackish wings that display a wide white bar. The short red-brown tail is also conspicuous. When soaring, the broad wings and short tail form a unified surface that is ideal for sustained aerial hunting. This buzzard is named after the Black-backed Jackal because its far-carrying call is similar to the cry of that animal.

This buzzard nests high up in the exotic pine trees on the hills. One to three eggs are laid and take about 40 days to hatch. During the breeding season the pairs can be seen ferrying food for their youngsters. The prey consists of small mammals, birds, large insects and even reptiles. The chicks fledge after spending 50 days on the nest.

The juveniles are light brown in colour and can easily be confused with the Steppe Buzzard which is a summer visitor from the Russian steppes.