Fact checked by Steven Lines, lifelong Hunter, and Outdoorsman.
Many people believe that buzzards will not eat wild hogs at all. While this is partly true, there are a few things to look at regarding buzzards, their diet, and what they can attack and eat. So that begs the question: why don’t buzzards eat wild hogs?
Buzzards don’t eat wild hogs as they are scavengers and not predators. While they will eat a dead hog that they come across, they are not equipped to hunt and kill wild hogs themselves. Buzzards do not have the size nor talons required to kill smaller wild hogs as hawks and eagles do.
So it is only partly true when someone says that buzzards do not eat wild hogs. While they will not attack and eat them, they will eat a dead one if they find it. Let’s dive deeper into what animals buzzards most commonly eat, as well as how often you can find them eating wild hogs.
What Are Buzzards?
The word buzzard refers to several different birds in the same family. The term buzzard is often mistakenly used for vultures. What are the differences between buzzards and vultures? It depends on where you are. In North America, the two names are used interchangeably for scavenging birds. In other parts of the world, they are two separate species entirely. But let’s focus on the birds found here and their relationship with wild hogs and other animals.
Three main types of buzzards thrive in North America. The most common is the turkey vulture, also known as the turkey buzzard. They are very easy to identify as they have a dark body with a bald redhead. This makes them resemble turkeys, hence the name. These are the birds that you will see making large circles in the sky as they search for food. They often stay at lower altitudes where they can use their incredible noses to smell for food. Their sense of smell is so powerful that they can detect dead animals from over 8 miles away.
The next species of buzzard is the black vulture. Unlike the other vulture species, these birds like to hunt and kill animals to feed on fresh meat. They hunt for smaller animals such as skunks, rabbits, mice, and opossums. They get their name because they are entirely covered in black feathers, and their bald head has black skin.
The last buzzard species in North America is the California condor, which also happens to be the largest bird species on the continent! With a black-feathered body and brightly colored heads, these birds are also among the rarest on the entire planet. They were thought to be extinct at one time and are still struggling to make a comeback in the wild.
What Do Buzzards Eat?
Now that we know what species we are dealing with let’s take a look at their diets. What exactly do buzzards eat? Are wild hogs a part of the menu? Most buzzards are scavengers that eat on already dead animals. They are opportunistic feeders and prefer to find already dead animals instead of attacking live animals. There are instances, such as with black vultures, where they will feed on smaller or vulnerable animals when they get the chance.
So how does this relate to wild hogs? Buzzards will not hesitate to feed on a dead hog that they find, especially if it is freshly killed. Buzzards will generally not go out of their way to attack living animals as they are not equipped well to bring down larger prey. Their talons and legs are not designed to kill animals like those of a hawk or eagle. They can, however, take down smaller animals such as mice, shrews, rabbits, and small birds.
There is also a well-known myth that buzzards will not eat wild hogs that they find dead. This is false, as buzzards would never refuse a fresh and easy meal when given the opportunity. They cannot, however, attack and kill large wild hogs to eat.
Wild Hogs as a Food Source
Wild hogs are among the most abundant animals in the country, so it only makes sense that they make up a significant food source for many species, including buzzards. But since buzzards can’t attack and kill wild hogs themselves, how do they feed on them? Luckily they have an almost never-ending food supply of wild hogs thanks to vehicle collisions and wild hog bow hunts and rifle hunts.
As the population of the wild hogs continues to increase, the frequency of collisions between vehicles and hogs increases with it. In some locations, the frequencies are so high that there have been wild hog crossing signs erected to warn drivers of the potential hazards. Because these collisions occur so frequently, especially in high population areas like Texas, the local buzzards have an almost endless supply of wild hog to eat.
Despite the common myth that buzzards don’t eat wild hogs, there are instances where they do. Buzzards are opportunistic animals, and feral hogs are abundant, meaning that you will most definitely find situations where they can feed on dead hogs. They cannot, however, hunt for them like bigger birds of prey can and do. So the next time you hear someone say that buzzards do not eat wild hogs, you can tell them that sometimes they actually do!
Steven Lines is a hunter and outdoorsman from Safford, Arizona, USA. Since a child, he has been hunting and fishing and has over 20 years of experience in the outdoors. Steven works as a hunting guide in Arizona during his spare time and runs a Youtube channel dedicated to sharing his outdoor adventures with others.