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© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki, M. & W. von Wright: Svenska fåglar (Kansalliskirjasto, The National Library of Finland). Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.

Rough-legged Buzzard

Buteo lagopus

  • Family: Hawks – Accipitridae
  • Appearance: A large bird of prey, bigger and longer-winged than a Buzzard. Best recognised by its tail, which is mainly white with a black band along its tip.
  • Size: Length 49–59 cm (19–23 in), wingspan 123–140 cm (48–54.5 in), weight 520–1,370 g (1.1–3 lb oz). Female larger than male.
  • Nest: Made of twigs, lined with moss, lichen and dry grass, typically near treetop (often pine) or on a cliff-side or large boulder. Nest-building continues throughout nesting, and birds may use the same nest for years.
  • Breeding: 2–6 eggs (depending on the abundance of rodents) incubated by female for about a month. Young birds able to fly within 34–45 days.
  • Distribution: Nests in Finnish Lapland, but seen elsewhere on migration. Finnish population usually 500–4,000 pairs. In 2015 only 380 individuals were observed. Some birds do not breed in years when voles are scarce.
  • Migration: Migrates South and Southeast in Oct, winters on Central Europe or Southern Russia. Returns March–early May. When voles are plentiful will winter in farmland, often in large numbers (most recently in winter 2008/2009).
  • Diet: Almost 90% of diet consists of small mammals (especially voles).
  • Calls: A prolonged, scorning mewing call.
  • Endangerment: Endangered, protected in Finland. Globally Least concern.

Rough-legged Buzzards are larger and more heavily built than Buzzards. Their heads and throats are a pale yellowish, and their bellies are black. They fly like Buzzards. Their under-wings are largely white, with a dark patch near the elbow. Their white tails are tipped with a black band. When upper parts are in view, white rump and tail are distinguishing features, visible even in poor light from long distances. Young birds have yellowish heads; their chin and throat are paler, and their flanks are streaked lengthwise; the trailing edge of their wings does not have the same black edging as adults’; and the black tip to the tail is less distinct. General colouring varies considerably on birds of all ages. Rough-legged Buzzards have yellow legs with their upper parts covered by feathers, bluish beaks with yellow ceres, and brown irises (yellow on juveniles).

Rough-legged Buzzards hunt while soaring or from a high perch. They may often hover for long periods (compare to Buzzard).

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

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