As its name suggests, the Forest Buzzard is an inhabitant of temperate forests and, of late, exotic plantations, where it hunts inside and on the edges of the forest and in clearings for small mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and insects, often swooping down from a favourite perch.
Forest Buzzards are usually seen singly or in pairs. Pairs form monogamous bonds and defend a territory against other adults of their kind. Their nests are large stick platforms constructed high above the ground in tall trees. The female lays two eggs in the spring, with the first hatched chick often severely bullying the second, frequently leading to the death of the second through malnutrition. The chick takes its first flight when about 7 weeks old but usually stays with the parents for another 4 months or so before becoming independent. Adults weigh around half a kilogram, with the female being slightly bigger than the male.
The Forest Buzzard is endemic to South Africa. It’s natural distribution is confined to mountainous forests from Cape Town in the west, along the southern coast and adjacent interior through the Western and Eastern Cape Provinces into Kwazulu Natal, and then along the Drakensberg range into Mpumalanga and Limpopo as far north as the Soutpansberg. It would appear that it visits the more northern reaches of this range mainly outside the breeding season. Due to its limited distribution, dependence on threatened habitats and low population (estimated at no higher than 6,700 mature individuals in total) the IUCN lists the Forest Buzzard as being near-threatened. In our experience, the various sections of the Garden Route National Park is the best place to find these beautiful but elusive raptors.