Common Buzzard
Buteo buteo
Population size
2,1-3,7 Mlnlnn
Life Span
25 years
Top speed
km/h mph 
g oz 
cm inch 
cm inch 

The Common buzzard (Buteo buteo) is a medium-to-large bird of prey which has a large range. It is an opportunistic predator that can take a wide variety of prey, but it feeds mostly on small mammals. The Common buzzard appears to be the most common diurnal raptor in Europe, as estimates of its total global population run well into the millions.


















Soaring birds




Generally solitary


Partial Migrant


starts with


The Common buzzard is a medium to a large-sized raptor that is highly variable in plumage. Most buzzards are distinctly round-headed with a somewhat slender bill, relatively long wings that either reach or fall slightly short of the tail tip when perched, a fairly short tail, and somewhat short and mainly bare tarsi. In Europe, most typical buzzards are dark brown above and on the upperside of the head and mantle, but can become paler and warmer brown with worn plumage. Usually, the tail will be narrowly barred grey-brown and dark brown with a pale tip and a broad dark subterminal band but the tail in palest birds can show a varying amount of white and reduced subterminal band or even appear almost all white. In European buzzards, the underside coloring can be variable but most typically show a brown-streaked white throat with a somewhat darker chest. A pale U across the breast is often present; followed by a pale line running down the belly which separates the dark areas on the breast side and flanks. These pale areas tend to have highly variable markings that tend to form irregular bars. Juvenile buzzards are quite similar to adults in the nominate race, being best told apart by having a paler eye, a narrower subterminal band on the tail, and underside markings that appear as streaks rather than bars.




Common buzzards occur across Europe and Russia, and parts of Northern Africa and Asia in the cooler winter months. Over much of their range, these birds are year-round residents. However, buzzards from the colder parts of the Northern Hemisphere as well as those that breed in the eastern part of their range typically migrate south for the northern winter, many journeying as far as South Africa. Common buzzards live in a range of habitats, especially woodland, coniferous, temperate broadleaf, and mixed forests and temperate deciduous forest, moorland, scrub, pastures, arable land, marsh, and bog. They may be found in both mountainous or flat country and are sometimes seen in wetlands and in coastal areas. Common buzzards are also fairly adaptive to agricultural lands, rural areas as well as suburban areas with parks and large gardens, in addition to such areas if they're near farms.

Common Buzzard habitat map
Common Buzzard habitat map
Common Buzzard
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Habits and Lifestyle

The Common buzzard appears lazy when it sits quietly perched for lengthy periods, but it is, in fact, a very active bird, and flies back and forth over fields and forests. It usually lives a solitary life, but when migrating may form in flocks of up to 20, using thermals to glide long distances with little effort. When flying over large bodies of water where there are no thermals, such as the Gibraltar Straits, the birds climb as high as they can before gliding across the entire expanse. This species is extremely territorial and will fight if there is an intrusion onto a pair’s territory. Many smaller birds like crows and jackdaws consider them a threat and will mob them repeatedly until they fly away from a particular area or tree. These beautiful raptors hunt their prey by dropping from perch, and then normally take it on the ground. Alternately, prey may be hunted in a low flight. They usually drop gently and then gradually accelerate at the bottom with wings held above the back. Sometimes, buzzards also forage by random glides or soar over open country, wood edges, or clearings. Outside the breeding season, buzzards may forage on the ground in groups of 15-30 individuals, especially juveniles. Their most common call sounds like that of a cat, a ‘'meow' like 'peea-ay'.

Group name
Seasonal behavior
Bird's call

Diet and Nutrition

Common buzzards are carnivores, they eat birds, small mammals, and carrion. If there is a lack of this prey, they will eat earthworms and large insects.

Mating Habits

33-38 days
14-16 weeks
2-4 eggs

Common buzzards are monogamous, pairs mating for life. A male attracts a mate (or impresses his existing one) by performing a spectacular ritual aerial display called ‘the roller coaster’. The bird flies high in the sky, then turns and plunges down, twisting and turning in a spiral, to rise again immediately and repeat the display. From March to May, a breeding pair constructs their nest in a big tree on a branch or fork, usually close to the edge of a forest. The nest is a bulky platform made of sticks and lined with greenery, where the female lays two to four eggs. Incubation is for about 33 to 38 days, and when the chicks hatch they are brooded by their mother for three weeks, the male supplying food. Fledging is when the young are about 50 to 60 days old, and both parents continue to feed them for 6 to 8 weeks more. At 3 years old they are reproductively mature.


Population threats

Currently, the Common buzzard is not seen to be globally threatened. Historically, in the UK, they were affected by frequent persecution by gamekeepers, which continues in some areas, despite now being illegal. These birds were also greatly affected by the huge decline during the 1950s of rabbit numbers, one of its main sources of food in the UK, due to the introduction of myxomatosis (a disease caused by the myxoma virus that affects rabbits).

Population number

According to the IUCN Red List, the total Common buzzard population size is around 2,100,000-3,700,000 mature individuals. The European population is about 814,000-1,390,000 pairs, equating to 1,630,000-2,770,000 mature individuals. According to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) resource, the total breeding population size in the UK is 57,000-79,000 pairs. Overall, currently, common buzzards are classified as least concern (LC) and their numbers today remain stable.

Ecological niche

As predators, Common buzzards may have an influence on the numbers of their prey species.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • Common buzzards are famous for the way they capture moles. They stare at the ground and, as soon as the soil moves, they suddenly fly off their perch to capture the mole without hesitation. Most of the prey is captured once it has been visually located while flying low in a circling flight, sometimes after searching from an altitude of around 100 meters.
  • The Common buzzard has very good hearing and can hear a mouse moving in the grass. When it locates such prey, the buzzard will soar slowly to the ground and run quickly, with agility, to capture the prey.
  • If, while flying, a Common buzzard is baited by seagulls or crows, it will turn over on its back to claw the offender.
  • These birds are often called a “tourist eagle,” people confusing them with eagles or Red kites.
  • Common buzzards stamp on the ground in order to attract earthworms to the surface and then eat them.


1. Common Buzzard Wikipedia article -
2. Common Buzzard on The IUCN Red List site -
3. Xeno-canto bird call -

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