Extremely variable. Generally dark brown above and on most of underbody and underwing coverts, from below , wingtip and trailing edge of wing dark, flight-feathers barred, pale area in outer primaries.
Extensive geographical variation, partly confounded by individual variation.
Races separated on size coloration and plumage pattern. Race vulpinus normally smaller, often with rusty underbody underwing coverts and upperside of tail, generally separable from B. rufinus on darker head and faintly barred tail, race menestriesi rather similar to vulpinus, but larger.
Variable, but always with some degree of tree cover.
Prefers edges of woods and areas where cultivation, meadows, pastures or moors alternate with coniferous or deciduous woods, or least clumps of trees.
In winter open fields, steppe or wetlands. Mainly flat terrain or gentle slopes at low or moderate altitudes.
Buteo buteo is a widespread breeder across most of Europe, which accounts for less
than half of its global breeding range. Its European breeding population is large
(>710,000 pairs), and increased between 1970-1990. Although there were declines in
a few countries during 1990-2000, key populations in Russia, Germany and France
were stable, and the species was stable or increased across most of the rest of Europe.
Adaptable, diet according to local and seasonal availability. Essentially a hunter of small mammals, particularly rodents, with voles main prey over much of range, also mice, rats hamsters shrews, young rabbits and hares.
Sometimes dominant prey by number are invertebrates, crickets, locusts and earthworms. Reptiles locally important, including lizards, slow-worms and snakes. Birds can be important when mammals scarce.
Hunts in clearings and open areas near edges or woods, almost always captures prey on ground. Spends long periods perched scanning or loafing, also spots prey from gliding or soaring flight. Walks on ground when hunting invertebrates.
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence 30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from birdlife.org]
Eggs laid from march to may. Nests in large trees, fairly close to edge of wood.
Nest is bulky platform of sticks and twigs, lined with greenery. Built in fork or on branch near trunk. 2-4 eggs, incubation 35-38 days by female, but most prey caught by male. Chicks have white or brownish grey first and second down. This species is sexual mature at 3 years old.
Migratory in Scandinavia (wintering in S Sweden), and in most of former USSR- partially migratory in C Europe (increasingly so with latitude)- sedentary in Britain, S Europe, Turkey, Caucasus, Japan and in island populations. Winters in Africa, Israel and Arabia- easternmost breeding populations winter in India, Indochina and China- part of C European population move S and SW in autumn, with some migrants reaching NW or even W Africa. Race vulpinus completely migratory, travelling up to 13,000 km, to winter in S Europe and SW Asia, but mainly in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in S- crosses over to Africa mainly via Bab al Mandab in autumn, and returns by Suez in spring- 465,827 birds recorded at Elat (Israel) in spring 1986. Race menestriesi apparently non-migratory. Length of migrants absence from breeding grounds increases with latitude.
- spanwidth min.: 110 cm
- spanwidth max.: 132 cm
- size min.: 46 cm
- size max.: 58 cm
- incubation min.: 33 days
- incubation max.: 38 days
- fledging min.: 50 days
- fledging max.: 38 days
- broods 1
- eggs min.: 2
- eggs max.: 4
- Conservation Status
- Buteo buteo vulpinus
- n and e Europe, c Asia
- Buteo buteo menetriesi
- e Turkey through the Caucasus to n Iran
- Buteo buteo buteo
- Europe e to Finland, Romania and Turkey
- Buteo buteo pojana
- Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, c and s Italy
- Buteo buteo harterti
- Buteo buteo insularum
- Canary Is. and Azores
- Buteo buteo bannermani
- Cape Verde Is.
- Buteo buteo
- EU widespread