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


Buteo buteo

  • Name also: Common Buzzard, Eurasian Buzzard
  • Family: Hawks – Accipitridae
  • Appearance: A medium-sized bird of prey, with wide wings, a short neck and a shortish tail – roughly as long as the bird’s wings are wide.
  • Size: Length 46–58 cm (18–23 in), wingspan 110–132 cm (43–51 in), weight 550–1,100 g (22–44 oz). Female larger.
  • Nest: Usually in a coniferous tree some way beneath the treetop. Made of twigs, lined with lichens and moss, and decorated with leafy branches. Sometimes takes over and improves the nests of other birds of prey, crows or even squirrels. The same nest may be used for many years.
  • Breeding: 2–6 eggs laid in late April and incubated by both parents for 34–35 days. Young birds able to fly within 40–42 days.
  • Distribution: Breeds in Finland as far north as Southern Lapland. Thrives in areas where extensive forests border on farmland. Finnish breeding population estimated at 4,000–4,200 pairs.
  • Migration: Southward migration may begin in August, with main migration late Sept–early Oct. Returns from early March, with main northward migration in late April. Sometimes winters in Finland (when voles are plentiful), but more typically winters in Africa (ssp. vulpinus) and Europe (ssp. buteo).
  • Diet: Small mammals, snakes, frogs, young birds and occasionally insects, worms etc.
  • Calls: Typical mewing call carries over long distances.
  • Endangerment: Endangered, protected. Globally Least concern.

Buzzards’ wings are wide with rounded wingtips. In soaring flight tail feathers spread out, and wings raised in a slight V-shape, though when gliding wings held almost horizontally. Otherwise in flight, wings are flapped 4–5 times before gliding with wings held horizontally or slightly raised (compare to Honey Buzzard).

Two subspecies are found in Finland. Birds of the commoner vulpinus race are paler than the nominate subspecies buteo, and the dark stripes on their rust-coloured tails are narrower than the paler stripes. Buzzards of the buteo race breed at least in the Åland Islands. They are heavier and darker brown, and on their tails the dark stripes are wider than the lighter stripes. Buzzards have yellow legs, bluish beaks with yellow ceres, and irises varying in colour from yellow-brown to dark brown.

Buzzards spot their prey either from a high perch or by soaring over good hunting territory. They may also briefly hover (compare to Rough-legged Buzzard).

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

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