Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus)

Long-legged Buzzard

[order] ACCIPITRIFORMES | [family] Accipitridae | [latin] Buteo rufinus | [authority] Cretzschmar, 1827 | [UK] Long-legged Buzzard | [FR] Buse feroce | [DE] Adlerbussard | [ES] Busardo Moro | [NL] Arendbuizerd


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

It is similar in appearance to the Rough-legged Buzzard (Buteo lagopus), but larger in size (approximate length 60-65cm / 24″) and more robust. There are many different colour forms, but usually Long-leggeds have clear orange tint to plumage, red or orange tail, pale head and largely white underwings. There is usually a distinctive black carpal patch and dark trailing edge to wing. Rump and trousers are often dark or deep rufous. Plumage varies from ghostly pale individuals to very dark birds. Some plumages are almost similar to those of the Steppe Buzzard, the Eastern subspecies of the Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo vulpinus), but Long-legged Buzzards have longer wings and are more like Rough-Legged buzzards or even a small Aquila eagle.

Listen to the sound of Long-legged Buzzard

[audio:http://www.planetofbirds.com/MASTER/ACCIPITRIFORMES/Accipitridae/sounds/Long-legged Buzzard.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 130 cm wingspan max.: 150 cm
size min.: 50 cm size max.: 61 cm
incubation min.: 28 days incubation max.: 34 days
fledging min.: 50 days fledging max.: 34 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 4  


Eurasia, Africa : Southwest, Southcentral


Open, uncultivated areas, with high bushes, trees, cliffs or hillocks are favoured as nesting areas. Younger birds disperse north of breeding grounds and there are records from Northern Europe.


It breeds between March and May. The number of eggs laid varies between 2-3 per clutch.

Feeding habits

Chiefly small mammals, reptiles, and large insects. Searches for prey in circling flight or from perch on rock, mound, or occasionally tree, and often on ground. Follows grass fires to feed on fleeing animals; also waits at burrows of rodents and stalks insects.

Video Long-legged 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 fluctuating, 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 has not been quantified, but it is not believed to 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.
This bird has a widespread distribution in northern Africa and Asia, from Morocco to western China. It is known in south-western Europe also, and its total European population can be estimated at 1000-2000 breeding pairs. Its Greek breeding population is totalling not more than 40-60 pairs (Handrinos & Akriotis, Tucker & Heath). It is decreasing, mainly because of the increasing agricultural encroachment on its steppe habitat.
Long-legged Buzzard status Least Concern


N African cirtensis sedentary and dispersive, having reached Senegal on one occasion. Eurasian rufinus either totally migratory, or partially migratory in N of breeding range and sedentary in S; winters from Turkey, Middle East and Arabia to Pakistan, N India and S Tibet; some birds reach N Africa, mainly Nile Valley and E sub-Saharan Africa. Leaves breeding grounds mainly in late Aug and Sept; returns mid-Mar to mid-Apr. Local movements due to droughts have been reported.

Distribution map

Long-legged Buzzard distribution range map


Title Mallophaga Species on Long-Legged Buzzards
(Buteo rufinus) in Turkey
Author(s): Bilal DIK, Meral AYDENIZOZ OZKAYHAN
Abstract: This study was carried out on three long-legged bu..[more]..
Source: Trkiye Parazitoloji Dergisi, 31 (4): 298-301, 2007

download full text (pdf)

Title Mallophaga Species on Long-Legged Buzzards
(Buteo rufinus): New Records from Turkey
Author(s): Bilal DIK
Abstract: This study was carried out on two long-legged buzz..[more]..
Source: Trkiye Parazitoloji Dergisi, 30 (3): 226-230, 2006

download full text (pdf)

Author(s): ILIYA Ts. VATEV
Abstract: Observations were made on Long-legged Buzzard (But..[more]..
Source: J. Raptor Res. 21(1):8-13

download full text (pdf)

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