pixabay Lizenz Yvonne Huijbens (https://pixabay.com/de/photos/mäusebussard-raubvogel-vogel-jagd-4695099/)

Common buzzard


The common buzzard is a medium-sized, compact bird of prey. It is 51 to 57 centimeters long and has a 113 to 128 centimeter wingspan. The wings are relatively broad, and the relatively short tail is rounded at the end. During circling gliding the wings are set up in a flat v-shape. The tips of the primaries are always dark, and the tail is usually narrowly banded all over. The crop area (breast band) is mostly longitudinally striped, rarely solid white to blackish brown, and usually dark even when the underside is otherwise light. The often brighter breast band is darkly longitudinally striped in young birds and transversely banded in adults. The undertail coverts are solid, spotted or banded. The feathers on the lower legs, the so-called pants, are plain, banded or longitudinally striped. The latter two feather parts may be lighter on dark underparts and darker on light underparts. The tail is the surest feature to distinguish the nominate form of the common buzzard from its subspecies and from the rough-legged buzzard. In the nominate form of the common buzzard, the tail feathers are gray, brown, or rusty red with eight to twelve dark cross bands. Further coloration and markings are highly variable.

The nominate form of the common buzzard occurs in very different colorations from almost completely white to almost completely blackish brown in numerous transitions, which is unique in the avifauna of Central Europe, except for the even more variable ruff. Light, intermediate, and dark morphs can be distinguished. The darkest morphs are almost entirely clay-colored to blackish brown, juveniles (from fledging to first molt) with longitudinal stripes on the underside, sometimes extending over the crop. Old birds may have transverse stripes on the underside extending to the darker crop area. The fully banded tail is brown or gray. Intermediate morphs have less distinct markings on the whitish to pale yellowish underside, sometimes without the typical breast bib on the lower part of the crop. The tail is sometimes incompletely banded. The lightest morphs with whitish-pale yellow underparts and dorsum have distinctly less to nearly absent wing and tail banding. Pale yellow individuals often have ochre brown and gray mottling on the back, which is why they look " multicolored."

The horn-colored talons are lighter or darker in all morphs according to the plumage coloration. The beak is black and lighter toward the head. The unplumaged parts of the body (feet and wax skins) are pale pink in newly hatched juveniles and yellow in adults. The iris is variable in coloration from gray, gray-brown to gray, rarely lighter or yellowish and is related to the general plumage coloration.


The common buzzard inhabits mainly small wooded areas with adjacent open landscapes, where it forages almost exclusively. In the vicinity of the forest, it prefers pastures, meadows, heath and wetlands or vegetation kept short by humans. Breeding at altitudes above 1000 meters above sea level is rare. Common buzzards are often seen perched on posts along highways as they scan these and other routes while hunting. Forest edges of smaller old-growth stands are preferred for nesting, and the inner parts of closed forests or narrow border strips between fields or individual trees are rarely colonized. Increasing colonization of landscapes with few trees was observed on control plots near Potsdam and in the west of Schleswig-Holstein in Germany. A high proportion of broods was also found in rows of poplars, but also on single trees and in small copses at a distance of less than a hundred meters from individual farmsteads. These new colonizations were already described as not rare before. There are successful broods in direct proximity to houses in the settlement area.

As a synanthropic bird, the common buzzard has also settled the city centers. Here it prefers cemeteries or parks as eyrie sites, sometimes also in the immediate vicinity of residential areas.

The text is a translation of an excerpt from Wikipedia (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mäusebussard). On wikipedia the text is available under a  „Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike“licence. Status: 17 December 2021