Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo)

Common Buzzard

[order] ACCIPITRIFORMES | [family] Accipitridae | [latin] Buteo buteo | [authority] Linnaeus, 1758 | [UK] Common Buzzard | [FR] Buse variable | [DE] Mausebussard | [ES] Ratonero Comun | [NL] Buizerd


Monotypic species


Members of the genus Buteo are broad-winged, broad-tailed hawks, Well adapted for soaring. The bill, legs and talons are of average proportions. There is much colour variation both within the species, and, by way of phases, within individual species. In all cases the young are quite different from adults in that they are all well camouflaged with an overall brown appearance with varying amounts of striping below and paler mottling above.
The 25 species are spread worldwide with the exception of Australasia and much of the Indian sub-continent.

Physical charateristics

Extremely variable. Generally dark brown above and on most of underbody and underwing coverts, from below , wingtip and trailing edge of wing dark, flight-feathers barred, pale area in outer primaries.
Extensive geographical variation, partly confounded by individual variation.
Races separated on size coloration and plumage pattern. Race vulpinus normally smaller, often with rusty underbody underwing coverts and upperside of tail, generally separable from B. rufinus on darker head and faintly barred tail, race menestriesi rather similar to vulpinus, but larger.

Listen to the sound of Common Buzzard

[audio: Buzzard.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 110 cm wingspan max.: 132 cm
size min.: 46 cm size max.: 58 cm
incubation min.: 33 days incubation max.: 38 days
fledging min.: 50 days fledging max.: 38 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 4  


Eurasia : widespread


Variable, but always with some degree of tree cover.
Prefers edges of woods and areas where cultivation, meadows, pastures or moors alternate with coniferous or deciduous woods, or least clumps of trees.
In winter open fields, steppe or wetlands. Mainly flat terrain or gentle slopes at low or moderate altitudes.


Eggs laid from march to may. Nests in large trees, fairly close to edge of wood.
Nest is bulky platform of sticks and twigs, lined with greenery. Built in fork or on branch near trunk. 2-4 eggs, incubation 35-38 days by female, but most prey caught by male. Chicks have white or brownish grey first and second down. This species is sexual mature at 3 years old.

Feeding habits

Adaptable, diet according to local and seasonal availability. Essentially a hunter of small mammals, particularly rodents, with voles main prey over much of range, also mice, rats hamsters shrews, young rabbits and hares.
Sometimes dominant prey by number are invertebrates, crickets, locusts and earthworms. Reptiles locally important, including lizards, slow-worms and snakes. Birds can be important when mammals scarce.
Hunts in clearings and open areas near edges or woods, almost always captures prey on ground. Spends long periods perched scanning or loafing, also spots prey from gliding or soaring flight. Walks on ground when hunting invertebrates.

Video Common Buzzard


copyright: youtube


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Buteo buteo is a widespread breeder across most of Europe, which accounts for less
than half of its global breeding range. Its European breeding population is large
(>710,000 pairs), and increased between 1970-1990. Although there were declines in
a few countries during 1990-2000, key populations in Russia, Germany and France
were stable, and the species was stable or increased across most of the rest of Europe.
Common Buzzard status Least Concern


Migratory in Scandinavia (wintering in S Sweden), and in most of former USSR; partially migratory in C Europe (increasingly so with latitude); sedentary in Britain, S Europe, Turkey, Caucasus, Japan and in island populations. Winters in Africa, Israel and Arabia; easternmost breeding populations winter in India, Indochina and China; part of C European population move S and SW in autumn, with some migrants reaching NW or even W Africa. Race vulpinus completely migratory, travelling up to 13,000 km, to winter in S Europe and SW Asia, but mainly in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in S; crosses over to Africa mainly via Bab al Mandab in autumn, and returns by Suez in spring; 465,827 birds recorded at Elat (Israel) in spring 1986. Race menestriesi apparently non-migratory. Length of migrants’ absence from breeding grounds increases with latitude.

Distribution map

Common Buzzard distribution range map


Title Sexing, ageing and moult of Buzzards Buteo buteo in a southern European area
Author(s): Iigo Zuberogoitia1, Jose Antonio Martnez, Jabi Zabala, Jose Enrique Martnez, Inaki Castillo, Ainara Azkona and Sonia Hidalgo
Abstract: In order to obtain a reliable method for sexing an..[more]..
Source: Ringing & Migration (2005) 22, 153-158

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Title Numerical response of common buzzards and predation rate of main and alternative prey under fluctuating food conditions.
Author(s): Reif, V., Jungell, S., Korpimki, E., Tornberg, R. & Mykr, S. 2004
Abstract: We studied the numerical response of a population ..[more]..
Source: Ann. Zool. Fennici 41: 599-607

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Title The Complete Sequence of the Mitochondrial Genome of Buteo buteo (Aves, Accipitrid ) Indicates an Early Split in the Phylogeny of Raptors
Author(s): Elisabeth Haring, Luise Kruckenhauser, Anita Gamauf, Martin J. Riesing, and Wilhelm Pinsker
Abstract: The complete sequence of the mitochondrial (mt) ge..[more]..
Source: Mol. Biol. Evol.,Oct 2001;18:1892-1904.

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Title Breeding density and brood size of Common Buzzard Buteo buteo in relation to snow cover in spring
Author(s): Selas V.
Abstract: In a 500 km2 study area situated 100-400 m above s..[more]..
Source: ARDEA 89 (3): 471-479.

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Title Diet of Common Buzzards (Buteo buteo) in southern Norway determined from prey remains and video recordings.
Author(s): V. Sels, R. Tveiten & O.M. Aanonsen
Abstract: We examined the diet of six breeding Common Buzzar..[more]..
Source: Ornis Fennica 84:97-104. 2007

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