Etosha National Park, Namibia
7-10, see text
|Range of B. buteo as in recognized, but if B. b.vulpinus had a larger range Breeding range of migrant populations Resident range Wintering range of migrant populations|
Falco buteo Linnaeus, 1758
The common buzzard (Buteo buteo) is a medium-to-large bird of prey whose range covers most of Europe and extends into Asia. Over much of its range, it is resident year-round, but birds from the colder parts of the Northern Hemisphere typically migrate south (some well into the Southern Hemisphere) for the northern winter.
The first formal description of the common buzzard was by the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus in 1758 in the tenth edition of his Systema Naturae under the binomial name Falco buteo. The genus Buteo was introduced by the French naturalist Bernard Germain de Lacépède in 1799 by tautonymy with the specific name of this species. The word buteo is Latin for a buzzard.
Buzzard subspecies fall into two groups. The western Buteo group is mainly resident or short-distance migrants. They are:
- Buteo buteo buteo: most of Europe
- B. b. rothschildi: Azores
- B. b. insularum: Canary Islands
- B. b. pojana: Corsica and Sardinia
- B. b. harterti: Madeira, doubtfully distinct from nominate buteo
The eastern vulpinus group includes
This broad-winged raptor has a wide variety of plumages, and in Europe can be confused with the similar rough-legged buzzard (Buteo lagopus) and the distantly related European honey buzzard (Pernis apivorus), which mimics the common buzzard's plumage for a degree of protection from northern goshawks. The plumage can vary in Britain from almost pure white to black, but is usually shades of brown, with a pale 'necklace' of feathers.
Of the two eastern subspecies, B. b. vulpinus breeds from east Europe eastward to the Far East (including Eastern China and South Asia), excluding Japan, while B. b. menetriesi breeds in the Southern Crimea and Caucasus to northern Iran. B. b. vulpinus is a long-distance migrant, excepting some north Himalayan birds, and winters in Africa, India and southeastern Asia. In the open country favoured on the wintering grounds, steppe buzzards are often seen perched on roadside telephone poles.
The steppe buzzard is some times split off as a separate species, B. vulpinus. Compared to the nominate form, it is slightly smaller (45–50 cm (18–20 in) long), longer winged and longer tailed. The two colour morphs are the rufous form which gives this subspecies its scientific name (vulpes is Latin for "fox") and a dark grey form.
The tail of B. vulpinus is paler than the nominate form, and often quite rufous, recalling North American red-tailed hawk. The upper wings have pale primary patches, and the primary flight feathers are also paler when viewed from below. Adults have a black trailing edge to the wings, and both morphs often have plain underparts, lacking the breast band frequently seen in B. b. buteo.
The common buzzard breeds in woodlands, usually on the fringes, but favours hunting over open land. It eats mainly small mammals, and will come to carrion. A great opportunist, it adapts well to a varied diet of pheasant, rabbit, other small mammals to medium mammals, snakes and lizards, and can often be seen walking over recently ploughed fields looking for worms and insects. When available, common buzzards feed on their preferred prey species, field voles Microtus agrestis, in relation to their abundance. When the abundance of field voles decline, common buzzards switch to foraging on a diversity of prey items typical of farmland habitats.
Buzzards do not normally form flocks, but several may be seen together on migration or in good habitat. The Victorian writer on Dartmoor, William Crossing, noted he had on occasions seen flocks of 15 or more at some places. Though a rare occurrence, as many as 20 buzzards can be spotted in one field area, approximately 30 metres (98 ft) apart, so cannot be classed as a flock in the general sense, consisting of birds without a mate or territory. They are fiercely territorial, and, though rare, fights do break out if one strays onto another pair's territory, but dominant displays of aggression will normally see off the interloper. Pairs mate for life. To attract a mate (or impress his existing mate) the male performs a ritual aerial display before the beginning of spring. This spectacular display is known as 'the roller coaster'. He will rise high up in the sky, to turn and plummet downward, in a spiral, twisting and turning as he comes down. He then rises immediately upward to repeat the exercise.
The call is a plaintive peea-ay, similar to a cat's meow.
In parts of its range it is increasing in numbers. In Ireland it became extinct about 1910, but began to slowly recolonise the country in the 1950s, and is now a common and familiar sight over much of Ireland.
At Hamerton Zoo, England
In flight, Devon, England. There are around 40,000 breeding pairs in the United Kingdom
Egg, Collection Museum Wiesbaden
- BirdLife International (2013). "Buteo buteo". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- Linnaeus, C. (1758). Systema naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio decima, reformata (in Latin). Holmiae (Stockholm): Laurentii Salvii. p. 90.
F. cera pedibusque luteis, corpore fusco, abdomine paludo maculis fuscis.
- Lacépède, Bernard Germain de (1799). "Tableau des sous-classes, divisions, sous-division, ordres et genres des oiseux". Discours d'ouverture et de clôture du cours d'histoire naturelle (in French). Paris: Plassan. p. 4. Page numbering starts at one for each of the three sections.
- Mayr, Ernst; Cottrell, G. William, eds. (1979). Check-list of Birds of the World. Volume 1 (2nd ed.). Cambridge, Massachusetts: Museum of Comparative Zoology. p. 361.
- Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 81. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
- Dunning, John B. Jr., ed. (1992). CRC Handbook of Avian Body Masses. CRC Press. ISBN 978-0-8493-4258-5.
- Ferguson-Lees, J.; Christie, D. (2001). Raptors of the World. Illustrated by Kim Franklin, David Mead & Philip Burton. Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-618-12762-3.
- "Steppe Buzzard - Buteo buteo vulpinus (Gloger, 1833)". Avibase.
- "Common Buzzard (Eastern Steppe) - Buteo buteo menetriesi Bogdanov, 1879". Avibase.
- Francksen, R. M.; Whittingham, M. J.; Ludwig, S. C.; Roos, S.; Baines, D. (2017). "Numerical and functional responses of Common Buzzards Buteo buteo to prey abundance on a Scottish grouse moor". Ibis. 159 (3): 541–553. doi:10.1111/ibi.12471.
- Mullarney, Killian; Svensson, Lars; Zetterstrom, Dan; Grant, Peter (1999). Collins Bird Guide. London: HarperCollins. ISBN 0-00-219728-6.
- Sinclair, Ian; Hockey, Phil; Tarboton, Warwick (2002). SASOL Birds of Southern Africa. Struik. ISBN 1-86872-721-1.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Buteo buteo.|
|Wikispecies has information related to Buteo buteo|
- Steppe Buzzard species text in The Atlas of Southern African Birds
- Madeira Birds: Buzzard. Page about the controversial subspecies harterti. Retrieved 28 November 2006.
- Ageing and sexing (PDF; 4.2 MB) by Javier Blasco-Zumeta & Gerd-Michael Heinze
- Feathers of Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo)
- BirdLife species factsheet for Buteo buteo
- "Buteo buteo". Avibase.
- "Eurasian buzzard media". Internet Bird Collection.
- Common buzzard photo gallery at VIREO (Drexel University)
- Audio recordings of Common buzzard on Xeno-canto.