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Eastern Buzzard - BirdForum Opus

Adult, nominate subspecies
Photo by ampersand
Namsan Park, Seoul, South Korea, 20 December 2009

Alternative name: Japanese Buzzard

Buteo japonicus


42–54 cm (16½-21¼ in)
Compact with broad wings; usually dark brown above and pale below with small bill and feet. Adults typically have head paler than upperparts; underparts off-white with dark brown patches on sides and lower chest contrasting with pale belly. Sexes similar but females average larger.
Juvenile is more heavily streaked below.

Similar Species

Adult, subspecies japonicus
Photo © by Ayuwat J
Doi Angkang, Chiangmai, Thailand. 3 December 2006

Similar to Common Buzzard Buteo buteo but less variable in plumage, occurring in light, dark and intermediate morphs. Rough-legged Buzzard has bicolored tail.


Nominate race largest.


Breeds in southeastern Siberia, northern Mongolia, northeast China and Japan.
In winter in Japan, Korea and south to southeast Asia and the Indian Subcontinent.


Formerly considered conspecific with Himalayan Buzzard and Common Buzzard.


Juvenile, subspecies japonicus
Photo © by Godwin Chan
Hong Kong,13 March 2020

Three subspecies recognized[1].

  • B. j. japonicus from Lake Baikal area and northern Mongolia east through Amurland and northeast China to Sakhalin, Japan and the southern Kuril Islands, winters from Korea and Japan to south and southeast Asia
  • B. j. toyoshimai on Izu Islands and Bonin Islands
  • B. j. oshiroi on Daito Islands (status uncertain, probably extinct)


Variable, but usually a mix of treed and open terrain from sea-level to at least 1300 m elevation.



Poorly studied. Breeds on Honshu in April–July, the nest is a large twig platform built 6–20+ meters off the ground in pines (Pinus spp.) or other large trees. Clutch is 2-4 eggs.


Poorly known. A variety of animal prey reported, including mammals up to size of hares (Lepus) and birds as large as pigeons.


Partial migrant. The most northern breeding populations winter in more southerly areas.


Main call is a descending two-note scream or cry that may be harsh or rather plaintive, usually given in aerial display.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Brazil, M. (2018) Birds of Japan. Helm Field Guides.
  3. del Hoyo, J., Collar, N., Marks, J.S. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Japanese Buzzard (Buteo japonicus). 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 https://www.hbw.com/node/467356 on 2 May 2019).
  4. Global Raptor Information Network. 2019. Species account: Eastern Buzzard Buteo japonicus. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 2 May. 2019.

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