The Grey-faced Buzzard-eagle is smaller than the Large-billed Crow. Its size is similar to that of the Carrion Crow. It is one of raptors that come to Japan in the spring, and it feeds mainly on amphibians and reptiles. It hunts for prey around paddy fields and nests in the woods near the paddy fields. In recent years its population has declined along with the reduction of paddy fields space, leading to its designation as threatened species in Japan. Some people hear its call of“Pi-qwii”as “Kiss me!”
Play birds singing
The northern boundary of its breeding area is Aomori prefecture in Japan, partly because the snakes, lizards, and frogs that make up its main diet are scarce in Hokkaido. Also since many heterothermic animals like snakes hibernate in winter, the Grey-faced Buzzard-eagle is thought to fly southward in the fall. However, the birds can stay in the Nansei Islands, the southern part of Japan, for the winter without moving south. Not only is there an abundance of reptiles and amphibians for food, they are active even in winter.
The southern islands attract attention because of the unique wildlife found there, which cannot be seen on the mainland, and for the opportunity to see the different way of living even among the same species according to climatic conditions.
The bio-diversity of Japan becomes every apparent when you come to know Hokkaido and the Nansei Islands. For example, the Grey Wagtail and the Common Sandpiper are summer birds in Hokkaido and winter birds in Okinawa. These birds are considered resident birds and many bird guides note that they stay in the same place all year, but a fair number of them so migrate.
As explained in the description of the White-tailed Eagle, there are some raptor species that are not so large. Even the medium-sized Grey-faced Buzzard-eagle does not look so big when it is flying in the air.
In order to notice flying hawks and falcons, carefully observe flying crows, which you can find everywhere, and learn the differences in the flight patterns of the two.
You do not have to go to a well-known bird-watching spot, such as a cape or mountain, to see the migration of Grey-faced Buzzard-eagles. These resident birds are seen flying south or west even in the middle of cities on a clear fall day. As explained in the description of the Peregrine Falcon, hawks and falcons have shallower wing flaps than crows, but their speed is what really stands out. Another notable characteristic is the length of time they spend gliding. Also, the wings of the Grey-faced Buzzard-eagle, as well as many hawks and falcons, are longer and thinner than the crow. Only the Goshawk, similar to the Grey-faced Buzzard-eagle in size, is the exception; it has round, short wings like a Broad-billed Crow. Since the Goshawk hunts in the forest, longer wings would likely be problematic for it.
The wings of raptors usually have stripes, but they cannot be seen when the birds are flying high in the sky. It is best to identify their flight pattern or shape by comparing them with crows.
Flocks of Grey-faced Buzzard-eagles can be seen circling the skies around well-known mountains and capes on their migration route in the fall before heading south. When there are many birds circling together it is called a taka-bashira, which translated literally means “hawk pillar.”
Canon sites where this bird is seen