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Long-legged Buzzard - BirdForum Opus

Nominate subspecies
Photo © by Alok Tewari
Jorbeer Conservation Reserve, Bikaner, Rajasthan, India, 22 February 2022
Buteo rufinus


43–62 cm (17-24½ in)
Plumage pattern very variable. Pale morph with an orangey hue to plumage. Red or orange tail, creamy-buff head and underparts, often with a rufous belly patch, and largely white underwings except for the dark carpal patch and narrow dark trailing edge. Dark morph birds are dark brown, less rufous, and also have dark underparts and underwing coverts, but still pale-based primaries and secondaries.

Immature : nominate subspecies
Photo © by Alok Tewari
Nazafgarh Wetlands, Gurgaon-Delhi Border, Haryana, India, 25 July 2016

Similar Species

Some birds, particularly immatures, are virtually indistinguishable from Common Buzzards of the eastern subspecies B. b. vulpinus ("Steppe Buzzard"); Long-legged is best distinguished by structure, being larger (nominate subspecies only) and longer-winged, with a more eagle-like profile in flight. Long-winged structure also reminiscent of Rough-legged Buzzard. In the Central Asian part of its range, Upland Buzzard also needs to be considered.


Breeds in Europe, Middle East, northern Africa, and Asia to India and Mongolia; winters to Africa south of Sahara. In Europe found in Turkey, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and increasingly in the south of Spain, where it is now breeding in small numbers.


Nominate subspecies : under-wing in flight
Photo © by A. Meir
Eilat, Israel, 2007


Two subspecies are accepted[1]:

  • B. r. rufinus — southeastern Europe east to central Asia; also wintering south to Pakistan and northwestern India. Larger; 50-62 cm, wingspan 130-155 cm.
  • B. r. cirtensis — northern Africa to the Arabian Peninsula; a recent colonist in southern Spain. Smaller; 43-50 cm, wingspan 105-125 cm.


Open, uncultivated areas, with high bushes, trees, cliffs or hillocks. Steppe, semi-desert.



Diet mainly small rodents, although it will also take lizards, snakes, small birds and large insects.

Nominate subspecies : upper-wing in flight
Photo © by Alok Tewari
Nazafgarh Wetlands, Gurgaon-Delhi Border, Haryana, India, March-2018


Nominate subspecies juvenile
Photo © by Scridifer
Povelianovo, Bulgaria, February 2017


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved March 2016)
  3. Wikipedia
  4. Collins Bird Guide 5th Edition
  5. Paper describing identification features of Long-legged vs Upland Buzzards

Recommended Citation

External Links

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