Long-legged Buzzard

Long-legged Buzzard, Buteo rufinus

Long-legged Buzzard

Long-legged Buzzard, Kazakhstan, © Jochen Fünfstück


English: Long-legged Buzzard
Scientific: Buteo rufinus
German: Adlerbussard
Spanish: Busardo Moro
French: Buse féroce

Taxonomy and Subspecies

Forms a superspecies with the Upland Buzzard Buteo hemilasius with witch it may even be conspecific [GRIN 2009].

Two subspecies [Mebs & Schmidt 2006, GRIN 2009]:.

  • B. r. rufinus Europe and Asia
  • B. r. cirtensis Northern Africa and Arabia (much smaller than rufinus).


Length: 50-65 cm
Wingspan: 115-160 cm
Weight: Males ca. 1,100 g, Females ca. 1,300 g.

Largest Buzzard in Europe.

Maximum Age

unknown. [Mebs & Schmidt 2006]


The Long-legged Buzzard occurs in semi-desserts, deserts, steppes and also in low mountain ranges with a high amount of forests. Sometimes also found in croplands and along the coast.


From northern Africa and eastern Europa eastwards through Turkey, southern Russia and Iran to Mongolia and northern India.
In Europe found in the south-east with most pairs in Russia, Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey. The most north-western pairs breed in Hungary.


Long-legged Buzzards from the Balkan and Russia are mostly migratory and spend the winter in northern Afrika or in the Sahel. Some birds spend the winter in Hungary or Greece [Mebs & Schmidt 2006]. Sometimes Long-legged Buzzards are seen farther in the west, for example in Austria and Germany.
The birds in North Africa from the cirtensis subspecies are either sedentary or move south. Some birds have been seen in Spain.

Breeding and Reproduction

Probably first breeds with two or three years. Nests either built on trees or cliffs or even buildings. The cirtensis subspecies often builds on nests of other species like crows [GRIN 2009].
The female lays 2 or 3 (sometimes up to 5) eggs which are incubated for about 33 – 35 days. The young stay in the nest for 43-45 days [Mebs & Schmidt 2006].

Food and hunting

Like other buzzards hunts mostly small and medium-sized mammals like gerbils, voles or hamsters. Susliks also important where still available. Less often, reptiles, amphibians or birds are taken.
During winter, also takes carrion [Mebs & Schmidt 2006].


European population without Turkey estimated between 2,304 and 3,497 pairs [Mebs & Schmidt 2006]. Largest populations in Russia with 1,000 – 2,000 pairs and Bulgaria with more than 800 pairs. Smaller populations in Greece (200 – 300 pairs) and other countries on the Balkan.
In Turkey there are between 5,000 and 8,000 pairs [Mebs & Schmidt 2006].


Threatened by habitat destruction through intensification of agriculture in some areas. Intensive agriculture may result in a reduction of prey like suslikes or hamsters.
Electrocution can also be a problem. Many losses through electrocution are reported from Russia [Mebs & Schmidt 2006].


Power lines should be made safe across the species’ range. This would also benefit many other raptors and birds like storks.
Habitat destruction must be stopped. Remaining steppes and and populations of prey species like suslikes and hamsters must be protected.

Status IUCN/BirdLife

Least Concern (LC)

Status Global Raptor Information Network

Lower risk


[GRIN 2009] Global Raptor Information Network. 2009. Species account: Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 22 Sep. 2009[Mebs & Schmidt 2006] Mebs, Theodor & Schmidt, Daniel (2006). Die Greifvögel Europas, Nordafrikas und Vorderasiens. Kosmos Verlag.


Forsman, Dick (1999). The Raptors of Europe and the Middle East A Handbook of Field Identification. PoyserMebs, Theodor & Schmidt, Daniel (2006). Die Greifvögel Europas, Nordafrikas und Vorderasiens. Kosmos Verlag.


BirdLife Species Factsheet for the Long-legged Buzzard

GRIN species account for the Long-legged Buzzard