Join for FREE
It only takes a minute!
Magnifying the passion for nature. Zeiss Victory Harpia 95. New!

Welcome to BirdForum.
BirdForum is the net's largest birding community, dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE! You are most welcome to register for an account, which allows you to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

Personal tools
Main Categories

Rough-legged Buzzard

From Opus

Alternative name: Rough-legged Hawk

B. l. lagopusPhoto by Cristian MihaiTunari, Romania; January 2013
B. l. lagopus
Photo by Cristian Mihai
Tunari, Romania; January 2013
Buteo lagopus


[edit] Identification

53-63cm (20¾-24¾ in). Wings long and broad. Light brown to dappled white upperparts; paler, streaked head, brown-spotted white breast, and dark belly band. The legs are fully feathered. Wings are mostly pale below but in typical birds have a dark square at the base of the hand and are dark-edged (sharply demarcated in adults, more diffuse in juveniles). Tail is white with one broad dark subterminal band and 0-5 additional narrow bands close the the subterminal band.

A dark morph occurs, mainly in the North American subspecies, where body and wing-coverts are completely dark but flight feathers and tail are quite typical, almost silvery white in this form. In all forms, a broad white uppertail is diagnostic (a narrow version of this can be seen in Common Buzzard) and usually, a pale base of primaries on the upperside of the wing.

B. l. kamtschatkensisPhoto by stoop   Fukushimagata, Niigata, Japan, January 2008
B. l. kamtschatkensis
Photo by stoop
Fukushimagata, Niigata, Japan, January 2008

[edit] Similar Species

Can be told from pale Common Buzzards and Red-tailed Hawk in flight by the whitish tail with the single dark bar at the end, the contrasting dark belly patch, and at close range, by the feathered ("rough") legs.

Is more inclined to hover than Common Buzzard, though that will also often do so. In Asia, pale phase Upland Buzzard can be similar, but lacks the dark tail band and belly patch.

[edit] Distribution

Breeds Arctic and subarctic regions of Europe, Asia, Alaska, and Canada; most if not all populations are migratory, wintering south of the breeding areas.
In Europe breed in Scandinavia through northern Russia, wintering mainly south of the Baltic Sea to the Balkans and east of that. Irregular winter visitor to the east coast of England, more rarey in eastern Scotland.
In North America breeds in the northern half of Canada, wintering mainly in the USA.

[edit] Taxonomy

[edit] Subspecies

B. l. sanctijohannisPhoto by muskrat  North-eastern Pennsylvania
B. l. sanctijohannis
Photo by muskrat
North-eastern Pennsylvania

Four subspecies are recognised[1], though some authors only accept three[2]:

  • B. l. lagopus
Breeds northern Europe, northwestern Asia, winters south to central Europe and central Asia. Light morph medium-toned; dark morph recorded but extremely rare.
  • B. l. menzbieri
Breeds northeastern Asia, winters south to southern China; included in B. l. kamtschatkensis by some authors. Very pale; dark morph not reported.
  • B. l. kamtschatkensis
Breeds Kamchatka, winters south to Japan. Very pale; dark morph not reported.
  • B. l. sanctijohannis
Breeds northern North America, winters south to central-south USA. Light morph medium-toned; dark morph frequent.

[edit] Habitat

Breeds on arctic and mountain tundra; winters mostly in wilder coastal areas, open prairies, farmland and marshes.

[edit] Behaviour

[edit] Flight

Hunts harrier-like low over the ground with frequent interludes of hovering. Glides with wings markedly angled at carpal joint.

[edit] Diet

Its diet includes small mammals, mainly lemmings on the breeding grounds, and rabbits and voles on the wintering grounds.

[edit] Breeding

Nests on cliff ledges, trees, or on the ground in high tundra. Two to seven eggs are laid, incubation lasts 28-31 days and after a further 39-45 days, the young fledge.

[edit] Vocalisation

Quite loud cat-like mee-oo.

Listen in an external program

[edit] Gallery

Click on photo for larger image

[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2015. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2015, with updates to August 2015. Downloaded from
  2. MacKinnon, J., & Phillipps, K. (2000). A Field Guide to the Birds of China. OUP ISBN 0 19 854940 7
  3. Birdwatchers Pocket Guide ISBN 1-85732-804-3
  4. Collins Pocket Guide to British Birds 1966
  5. Collins Field Guide 5th Edition

[edit] External Links

This link searches for videos titled Rough-legged Buzzard


Fatbirder's Top 1000 Birding Websites

Help support BirdForum

Page generated in 0.27047205 seconds with 6 queries
All times are GMT. The time now is 06:49.