Lizard Buzzard (Kaupifalco monogrammicus)

Lizard Buzzard

[order] ACCIPITRIFORMES | [family] Accipitridae | [latin] Kaupifalco monogrammicus | [authority] Temminck, 1824 | [UK] Lizard Buzzard | [FR] Buse unibande | [DE] Sperberbussard | [ES] Busardo gavilan | [NL] Hagedisbuizerd


Monotypic species


Members of the genus Kaupifalco are small hawks. They have rather long and pointed wings, a medium length tail, and well developed legs and talons. They have a distinctive colour pattern consisting only of grey, black and white, with little difference between immatures and adults. Kaupifalco is exclusively African and has but one species.

Physical charateristics

Upper parts of the body are slate grey, lighter on the sides of the face and the wing coverts. The lower back and rump are black, contrasting with the white upper-tail coverts, which form a broad white band. The tail is black, tipped with a broad white band, and with a broad central white band. Primary flight feathers are black, tipped, and the outermost edged with white. The secondaries grey with broader white tips. It has a white throat, with a black central streak. Its neck, sides and chest are dark-grey.
The rest of the under side, is closely barred white and grey/brown. The under-wing and under-tail coverts are also white.
The Iris is dark reddish brown, the cere and orbit orange red, and the feet orange. This species can be confused with some of the small grey African sparrow-hawks. The features best able to identify this species in any confusion are its white upper-tail coverts and broad white tail bar, and by the uniform grey upper breast with white throat and median black streak. It has the appearance of a plumpish little bird, and an undulating flight like a thrush. Close to, the full dark eye and central black streak on the throat are unmistakeable.

Listen to the sound of Lizard Buzzard

[audio: Buzzard.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 75 cm wingspan max.: 85 cm
size min.: 35 cm size max.: 38 cm
incubation min.: 33 days incubation max.: 34 days
fledging min.: 38 days fledging max.: 42 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 3  


Africa : widespread. It extends through most of Sub-Saharan Africa as far south as northeast South Africa, but it is most common in West Africa


The Lizard Buzzard is restricted to the denser savannahs and thornbush country in sub-Saharan Africa. It prefers areas having an annual rainfall of between 20 and 50 inches, and always in well-wooded areas. It is not generally found in true forest or steppe. This bird really likes the wetter savannahs of West and Central Africa, but it is also found in harsh, inhospitable thornbush in East and Central Africa. It spends most of its time perched in a position that commands a good view of the surrounding country, from which it makes short rushes into the grass or bush for food.


The breeding season starts with a great deal of calling from perches in trees, but no serious display flights. The nest – a small flattish structure no more than a foot across – is built in a tree, at almost any suitable height. Both birds are involved in the building – one brings material while the other arranges it. It is a solid structure, made of sticks lined with bits of debris and moss. One to three eggs are laid between September and November (there are variations, but it is generally to co-incide with the dry season). Incubation is carried out by the female, who is fed by the male on or near the nest. She also sometimes leaves the nest to capture prey herself. One or two small lizards or mammals each day is enough for both parents during the incubation period. The male spends most of his day near the nest, and the pair call to each other frequently. Usually shy and retiring, the male is most aggresive towards other birds near the nest at this time, and will attack even large birds with sufficient force and suddenness to knock them off a branch.

Feeding habits

As its common name suggests, the main diet of the Lizard Buzzard is lizards and snakes. It does also on occasions take small mammals, and some birds, especially young and fledglings. It catches most of its prey on the ground, by a short, quick dash from its perch, or snatches lizards from walls and branches of nearby trees. Some of the prey is eaten on the ground where it is caught, but most is carried back to the perch before being eaten.

Video Lizard Buzzard


copyright: Juan Sanabria


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 stable, 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.
Lizard Buzzard status Least Concern


Resident with some movement during the dry season usually after breeding

Distribution map

Lizard Buzzard distribution range map

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