Of the UK's birds of prey, this is the most intensively persecuted. Once predating free-range fowl, earning its present name, its effect on the number of grouse available to shoot is the cause of modern conflict and threatens its survival in some parts of the UK, particularly on the driven grouse moors of England and Scotland.
While males are a pale grey colour, females and immatures are brown with a white rump and a long, barred tail which give them the name 'ringtail'. They fly with wings held in a shallow 'V', gliding low in search of food, which mainly consists of meadow pipits and voles. The Orkney population is famous for being polygynous, with males sometimes mating with multiple females on the island.
They are listed as a Schedule 1 species under The Wildlife and Countryside Act.
What they eat:
Mainly small birds and mammals.
- 300-400g (male) 400-600g (female)
- UK breeding:
- 617 pairs (and 29 on the Isle of Man) in 2010
This bird species has different identifying features depending on sex/age/season.