Socotra Buzzard enters Guinness Book of Records!

Adult Socotra Buzzard with centipede, probably Scolopendra balfouri November 2008. Photo: Richard Porter

The Socotra Buzzard Buteo socotraensis has just entered the Guinness Book of Records as the newest bird of prey in the world! After spending more than a century without a name, the Socotra Buzzard Buteo socotraensis was named officially in a paper by Richard Porter and Guy Kirwan in the June 2010 issue of the Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club (Studies of Socotran Birds VI: the taxonomic status of the Socotra Buzzard.) Juvenile Socotra Buzzard, February,1991.

Like all other members of the Buteo buteo superspecies, it is poorly differentiated genetically from most Old World buzzards, but it is closest to B. (b.) bannermani of the Cape Verde Islands and the comparatively widespread Long-legged Buzzard B. rufinus of the southern Palearctic. Restricted to Socotra, Yemen, it has now been formally accepted by BirdLife International and given the Red Data status of ‘Vulnerable’. Richard Porter reports that the work he has been doing on Socotra provisionally suggests a population of c250 pairs. He writes: “The naming of the Socotra Buzzard brings the number of number of endemic bird species on Socotra to ten – the island now ranks alongside the Highlands of Yemen as the most important area for bird endemism in the whole of the Middle East, Europe, Central Asia and North Africa.”

Photo: Richard Porter Juvenile Socotra Buzzard, February 1991. Photo: Richard Porter

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