Project Archive: Buzzards & Released Gamebirds


George’s fieldwork involved installing remote camera above buzzard nests, to identify prey species adults feed to chicks.

Across Europe, the common buzzard Buteo buteo is considered to have a negative impact on game species. This is particularly true in the UK where a rapid increase in buzzard range and abundance, coupled with declining returns of harvested gamebirds, has produced a chronic conflict between hunting interests and conservation organisations over their management.

Dr George Swan’s PhD research sought to inform and advance the debate by exploring questions central to buzzard management. We utilised tools including remote nest-surveillance cameras and stable isotope analysis to better understand both the foraging ecology of this abundant predator and the hypothesis that some individuals learn to specialise on released game. Alongside this, we considered the social aspects of this conflict at a broader scale, exploring the motivations and perceptions of those impacted by predators within game management.

George is also part of the University of Aberdeen’s Conservation Conflict Research Group. 


Swan, G. J., Redpath, S. M., Bearhop, S., & McDonald, R. A. (2017). Ecology of problem individuals and the efficacy of selective wildlife management. Trends in Ecology & Evolution32(7), 518-530.


Project Team

Dr George Swan (University of Exeter)

Professor Robbie McDonald (University of Exeter)

Professor Steve Redpath (University of Aberdeen)

Professor Stuart Bearhop (University of Exeter)