During a visit on a fairly high mountain in the Taunus first mountain chain, the Atzelberg, in early March it was possible to observe and photograph the copulation of a pair of the Common Buzzards (Buteo buteo). On top of the Atzelberg there is a lookout tower, which gave the perfect position to photograph this unique event. The mating season begins usually in early spring in Middle Europe. During the mating season both partners hover for hours over the breeding grounds and call urgently for each other. In preparation of mating, you might see spectacular courtship flights. Males will start to perform courtship flights by impressive aerial displays with consist of tumbling, soaring, diving and loop maneuvers. Spectacular is the male rising high into the sky, before turning and plummeting downward in a spiral, twisting and turning as he dives. He then raises high again in the sky straight away to repeat the move. Eventually at the end is the pairing. The actual copulation usually takes only a few seconds.
A call of the female could not be heard in this particular case. The Common Buzzard male came in a vehement swoop flying towards the females perched in a spruce top. Copulations take place in birds of prey by cloacae contact. The female Common Buzzard calls for copulation by sitting horizontal and have the cloacae feathers spread. She attaches the tail sideways and presents the open sewer. Copulation may take up to 15 seconds. In the photographed case it took even 16 seconds. As you can see from the images, mating started by a behavior where the female laid down so that the male could land on her to perform the pairing as described above. The pair was vigorously shaking and beating with the wings. To keep the balance is a special challenge on top of a thin tip of a spruce tree. After mating, the female rested a while on the spruce top and the male flew a circle.
It is said, that pairing takes place only in an undisturbed environment. Whether one can speak of this in view of a lookout tower with a distance of about 30 meters to the spruce top, everyone likes to decide for themselves.
The Atzelberg is a mountain in Kelkheimer district Eppenhain. It is a 507 m asl high mountain in the Taunus hills. Of particular interest is an observation tower on the mountain, which is only in a distance a good 30km from the city center of Frankfurt. The tower offers an impressive, unobstructed view in all directions. In the southeast the densely populated Rhine-Main region can be seen with the skyline of Frankfurt. The take-off and landing aircrafts at Frankfurt Airport are very good to see. To the northeast extend the forested hills of the Taunus. The view is up to Limburg and the foothills of the Westerwald – the next mountain chain. The Atzelbergturm is a good 30 meters high observation tower made of pine wood; the open observation deck is at 533 meters asl.
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