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Jackal Buzzard - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by rudydbn
Gaints Castle, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, July 2006
Buteo rufofuscus


Length 44-55 cm, mass 0.9-1.7 kg. Females larger than males
Broad wings and short tail
Adult: Black above with a chestnut tail. The chin and throat are black and the breast is rich rufous, bordered by white feathers. The underwing coverts are black and the flight feathers from below are white (white barred black from above), tipped with black to form a dark trailing edge to the wing.

Photo © by mybs
Near Stellenbosch, South Africa, 20 December 2005

White-breasted morphs occur, and sometimes the entire underparts are white.
Dark morphs with underparts that are mostly black have also been observed, but are rare.

Juvenile: Mainly brown above and rufous brown below and on the tail.


Southern Africa: Widespread in South Africa, Lesotho, and eSwatini. More thinly distributed in Namibia. The edge of its range extends marginally into Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.


This is a monotypic species[1].

Closely related to (and sometimes lumped with) Augur Buzzard Buteo augur.


Young male
Photo © by BillN
Western Cape, South Africa, 28 February 2014

Mainly hills and mountains, although non-breeding adults and juveniles can be found in flat terrain. The species prefers short vegetation, ranging from fynbos, Karoo and semi-desert to open woodland and grassland.



Small ground mammals make up about 65% of the diet, but snakes, lizards, small ground birds, insects, and road-kill are also taken. Typically, the raptor drops on its prey after 'hanging' on an updraft, from a hover, or from a perch.


They build a large stick nest in a tree or on a crag, which may be used again in the following years. The 2 creamy or bluish-white eggs are incubated by the female, food being brought to her by the male. The eggs hatch after about 40 days and fledging is begun further 56-60 days later. At 70 days they finally leave the nest, but young birds may then be seen with the adult pair for some time.


Photo © by Alan Manson
Giants Castle, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, 26 August 2008

Call: A loud, yelping keeooow, similar to the call of the Black-backed Jackal.


  1. Clements, J. F., P. C. Rasmussen, T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, T. A. Fredericks, J. A. Gerbracht, D. Lepage, A. Spencer, S. M. Billerman, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2023. The eBird/Clements checklist of Birds of the World: v2023. Downloaded from https://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Claassens A & Marais E. 2008. Species information page - Jackal Buzzard. SASOL Bird e-Guide. http://www.birdlife.org.za/fieldguide/book/species_info.php?id=96. Downloaded 25 January 2008.
  3. Hockey, PAR, WRJ Dean, and PG Ryan, eds. 2005. Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa. 7th ed. Cape Town: John Voelcker Bird Book Fund. ISBN 978-0620340533

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