What's The Difference Between Vultures And Buzzards?

by OBDK on June 23, 2022

Do you know the difference between vultures and buzzards? 


There are pretty big differences, but there is often confusion between the two because of the name being used interchangeably when, in fact, these birds are separate species.1

Vultures are scavengers that eat carrion. They don’t have feathers on their heads because of this. Throughout the world, there are 23 species of vultures. There are New World vultures, which consist of the Cathartidae family, and there are Old World vultures, which consist of the Accipitridae family.2

Buzzards, however, are a species of hawk that belong to the Buteo genus.2 They are predators that go after live prey, not carrion. They are aggressive predators when they go after their prey, too.1 They exist on every continent except Antarctica and prefer open country regions.2 


So why is there confusion between the two? 

The confusion lies in the history of our country. When Europeans arrived in North America, they referred to the birds in the sky using the same name they used back in Europe – namely, buzzards. Buzzard is the term used to describe what we would call hawks in the United States. However, what the colonists actually saw were birds like Black Vultures and Turkey Vultures. So the name stuck, even though it referred to the wrong species of bird.1


Read more – what’s the difference between a raptor and a bird of prey?  

1.     https://www.birdwatchingusa.org/vulture-vs-buzzard 
2.     https://www.thespruce.com/buzzards-vs-vultures-4171318

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