Some remarks on the occurrence of buzzard (Buteo buteo) and goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) in Europe


en Anthropozoologica 25-26 - Pages 465-477

Published on 01 June 1998

This article is a part of the thematic issue Proceedings of the 7th ICAZ International Meeting, Constance, September 1994

Today in Europe the buzzard is far more abundant than the goshawk. In bone materials from archaeological sites, however, goshawk remains seem to be more frequent than those of buzzards. In order to confirm this impression all records of subfossil remains of these species from Northwest Europe were gathered and divided into two age groups dating before and after approximately AD 400-500. The amount of both species as well as their proportion is valued within each period, taking into consideration the relevant taphonomic factors. In contrast to the recent situation, a higher amount of goshawks was established for both periods, and in particular for the later one. The clearing of woodland in this epoch apparently favoured the goshawk which needs woodland intermingled with fields and pastures. A relatively open landscape, however, favours the buzzard too. Thus, the pronounced differences in the proportion between the remains of both species, especially in the later phase, probably are only partly an expression of differences in their population density depending on different ecological demands. Partly they may be caused by hawking which could have augmented the amount of goshawk remains. lt may also be assumed that goshawks were killed as noxious birds because they preyed on poultry which led to a further imbalance. Thus the natural proportion of these species could have been similar in both periods. The recent pronounced preponderance of buzzard, however, may be an expression of the extensive open areas in today's landscape which promotes this species.


Buzzard, goshawk, Europe, habitat, falconry.

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