Family Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)

Least Concern

Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus)


French: Buse féroce German: Adlerbussard Spanish: Busardo moro

Falco rufinus


, 1829,

upper Nubia, Shendi, Sennar and Ethiopia


Previously thought to be close to B. hemilasius, and sometimes considered conspecific, but one molecular study found no evidence of close affinity between the two#R (see that species). Several records of hybridization with B. buteo#R#R, and race cirtensis has hybridized successfully with latter in extreme S Spain#R; extensive hybridization with B. hemilasius in C Asia#R. Race cirtensis may warrant treatment as full species; extreme variation of both races, however, renders their separation difficult#R. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • B. r. rufinus (Cretzschmar, 1829) – Northern Long-legged Buzzard – SE Europe, Turkey and Israel E through Transcaucasia, Iran, Afghanistan and C Asia to NW China, and S to N Pakistan and NW India (Kashmir); winters to NE Africa, Middle East, Pakistan and N India to Bangladesh.
  • B. r. cirtensis (J. Levaillant, 1850) – Atlas Long-legged Buzzard – N Africa from NW Mauritania to Egypt and (probably this race) Arabia; recently bred in S Spain (near Strait of Gibraltar)#R#R and Italy (Pantelleria I, between Sicily and Tunisia)#R.
  • Descriptive notes

    43–62 cm; male 590–1281 g, female 945–1760 g; wingspan 112–160 cm. Polymorphic, with great variation, from dark morph through reddish morph to very... read more


    Main call a loud plaintive mewing scream, “kyaaah”, c. 0·5–0·8 seconds long and dropping in pitch,... read more


    Steppe, semi-desert, rocky or stony country; also open woodland or woods with clearings; from... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly small mammals, e.g. gerbils (Meriones), rats, voles, young rabbits and hares, pikas; also reptiles, e.g. lizards (... read more


    Lays mainly in Mar–Apr; from Jan in some coastal regions of Morocco. Nests on cliff ledges and crags, also in trees when available;... read more


    N African cirtensis sedentary and dispersive, having reached Senegal on one occasion. It... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Population sizes and trends little known. In European Russia c. 1000 pairs estimated in early 1990s. Scarce in Balkans: in... read more

    Recommended citation

    Orta, J., Boesman, P., Kirwan, G.M. & Marks, J.S. (2020). Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 26 February 2020).