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Upland or Common Buzzard, Russia, Altai (1 Viewer)

ekopa

Registered User
Supporter
Hello!

Is this an Upland Buzzard? Photographed in the Altai region of Russia in July. Common Buzzard is another possibility. Long-legged Buzzard is practically out of the area, but an accidental encounter cannot be excluded

Thanks!
Aleksey
 

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lou salomon

the birdonist
hard to tell but tarsi look feathered. on the other hand it doesn't give the impression of such a heavy bird like upland buzzard.
 

KenM

Well-known member
Looks like a Steppe Buzzard, presume “Upland” is an alternative name?

Cheers
 

lou salomon

the birdonist
Looks like a Steppe Buzzard, presume “Upland” is an alternative name?

Cheers

steppe buzzard is Buteo buteo vulpinus, Ken.
actually this bird does look like a steppe buzzard on structure. upland almost always looks like it has swallowed a grapefruit, with a heavy rear belly. the bird looks to be juvenile and thus tail is longer than in adults adn secondaries are bulging. i'd go with probable vulpinus here.
 
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RafaelMatias

Unknown member
Portugal
Are the 3 photos relative to one same bird?
Upland can be rulled out based on the 1st pic (thus if the other 2 are the same that solves the issue): the tarsi (well, the right tarsus) are visible and in Upland they should be feathered (bare in the present bird). The name "hemilasius" translates this feature.
 
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ekopa

Registered User
Supporter
Thanks

This is the same bird, size-wise indeed looked like a vulpinus, Upland Buzzard is the biggest buteo, almost like a Spotted Eagle, but I have never seen one so was in doubt
This is my first vulpinus of a black morph and I've seen them a lot. Darker Upland should be much more frequent
 

Nutcracker

Stop Brexit!
Do their respective ranges overlap ...?
Yes, they overlap in broad geography but are largely isolated by habitat, with Steppe Buzzard in lowland steppes, and Upland Buzzard, well, like it says, in uplands. Upland Buzzard is in may ways closer to Rough-legged in its cold climate ecology, and of course they also share feathered legs (an adaptation to cold).
 

ekopa

Registered User
Supporter
Not all Upland Buzzards have feathered legs. Some have partially feathered legs, some don’t have feathering at all. The proportions and size should be more telling
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
Yes, they overlap in broad geography but are largely isolated by habitat, with Steppe Buzzard in lowland steppes, and Upland Buzzard, well, like it says, in uplands. Upland Buzzard is in may ways closer to Rough-legged in its cold climate ecology, and of course they also share feathered legs (an adaptation to cold).

A bold statement Nutty,
I had cause to send some pics from St Petersburg, to Dick Forsman for comment, based on their very bright tails. He told me that basically, the range fo Steppe is only vaguely known, same with any hybrid zones.

He commented on these birds that it looks like there is some vulpinus influence but it's anyones guess where they meet.
 

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RafaelMatias

Unknown member
Portugal
Not all Upland Buzzards have feathered legs. Some have partially feathered legs, some don’t have feathering at all. The proportions and size should be more telling

I'm coming back to this discussion to complicate it a bit (sorry) and hopefully learning something from it.
I knew that in Upland Buzzard the tarsal feathering was frequently incomplete (and thus, from the greek, hemi: half, lasius: hairy, i.e. the feathering), but having no feathering at all is new to me. Perhaps I didn't search extensively enough but I could not find any evidence that this actually happens. Do you have any reference to back this up?

A study in Mongolia showed that tarsal feathering is variable, but no bird had totally unfeathered tarsi: https://sora.unm.edu/sites/default/files/journals/jrr/v033n04/p00323-p00326.pdf
In the same study it is suggested, and perhaps rightly so, that such variability is consistent with hybridization, in this case with Long-legged Buzzard. If this is true, then all other characters, including structure and proportions will be equally affected and likely also unreliable as ID features.

I know it's not frequent to check original descriptions (OD) in ornithology (in an ID context), and it's more usual to do so in entomology for example. The OD of Upland Buzzard describes in detail the feathering and scaling on the tarsi: https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/item/223586#page/28/mode/1up

It's in French though. It was called then "Le Buse Demi-pattue", the Half-booted Buzzard (by contrast with Buteo lagopus; note the North American ssp is included there as a different species, with important differences in structure being pointed out). The distinctiveness of the new species is actually mainly based on this feature.
The illustration of the species shows the type specimen:
https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/item/223586#page/171/mode/1up

The outer 1/3 of the tarsus in the type specimen was unfeathered (but all feathered in the inner side) and this and some of the photos and descriptions on the paper I posted above lead me to think that the tarsal feathering could be difficult or impossible to detect in a photo such as the first one in post 1 (where you see only the outer side of the tarsus, and not its full length).
This is likely to be much more complicated than I thought initially, with potential hybridization being an obstacle to put a name on less than typical birds.

PS: also relevant: http://centrostudinatura.it/public2/documenti/434-62558.pdf
 
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ekopa

Registered User
Supporter
Rafael, thank you for the extensive comments.
I learnt about the tarsus feathering variability from a short paper made by Igor Karyakin who has spent quite some time studying raptors in Altai region
Here is the article (it's in Russian and is about comparing UB with Long-legged Buzzard) It says that the absence of feathering doesn't exclude UB, but its presence indicate UB
You can see some photos captioned in Latin, one of it looks like the bird without tarsus feathering
It also mentions hybridization but points toward B.b.japonicus

http://rrrcn.ru/ru/archives/25332
 

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
Rafael, thank you for the extensive comments.
I learnt about the tarsus feathering variability from a short paper made by Igor Karyakin who has spent quite some time studying raptors in Altai region
Here is the article (it's in Russian and is about comparing UB with Long-legged Buzzard) It says that the absence of feathering doesn't exclude UB, but its presence indicate UB
You can see some photos captioned in Latin, one of it looks like the bird without tarsus feathering
It also mentions hybridization but points toward B.b.japonicus

http://rrrcn.ru/ru/archives/25332

This form is now known as Eastern Buzzard

Niels
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
steppe buzzard is Buteo buteo vulpinus, Ken.
actually this bird does look like a steppe buzzard on structure. upland almost always looks like it has swallowed a grapefruit, with a heavy rear belly. the bird looks to be juvenile and thus tail is longer than in adults adn secondaries are bulging. i'd go with probable vulpinus here.

There are a couple of birds labelled 'Upland' on Google, that look a lot like this, even with blackish undertail.
 

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