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Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus

This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (extent of occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be fluctuating, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.
Porter, R. F.; Kirwan, G. M. 2010. Studies of Socotran birds VI. The taxonomic status of the Socotra Buzzard. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 130(2): 116-131.

Taxonomic note
Buteo buteo (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) was split into B. buteo and B. bannermani by Hazevoet (1995) but Clouet and Wink (2000) and Hazevoet (1995) noted that bannermani has a close genetic affinity with B. rufinus: bannermanni and rufinus are thus currently treated as conspecific pending further study. A previously unnamed Buteo from Socotra (formerly included within B. rufinus by the BirdLife Taxonomic Working Group) has now been formally named Buteo socotraensis (Porter and Kirwan 2010), and has been recognised as a species by the BTWG.

Population justification
The European population is estimated at 11,800-19,200 pairs, which equates to 23,700-38,400 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms approximately 17% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 139,000-226,000 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed. It is placed in the band 100,000 to 499,999 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to fluctuate in response to vole populations (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). The European trend is currently estimated to be increasing (BirdLife International 2015) however accounting for fluctuations the global population trend for this species is estimated to be stable.

Behaviour North African birds are resident, but birds breeding in Eurasia migrate south to North Africa and southern Asia, leaving their breeding grounds in August and September and returning in March and April (del Hoyo et al. 1994). It is generally observed singly, in pairs or in small family groups, but is more gregarious on migration when larger flocks can form (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). Habitat It is a species of open areas, particularly steppe and semi-desert, and has been recorded up to 3,500 m (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Diet It feeds mainly on small mammals (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Breeding site The nest is made on cliff ledges and crags (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Management information Birds require sufficient outcrops, trees or disused nests on which to build their own nests (del Hoyo et al. 1994).

The population in Israel declined as a result of pesticide poisoning in the 1950s, but has since recovered (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001), however afforestation remains a threat (Friedemann et al. 2011). It is very highly vulnerable to the impacts of potential wind energy developments (Strix 2012). The species is also threatened by habitat destruction through agricultural intensification which may also reduce prey species. An increase in orchards and vineyards has reduced suitable habitat in Bulgaria (Demerdzhiev et al. 2014). Electrocution has also caused fatalities (Mebs and Schmidt 2006). In Saudi Arabia, stone quarrying has reduced populations (Global Raptor Information Network 2015). In China, rubbish and waste materials used in nest construction were identified as potential causes of nest failures (Wu et al. 2008). In its Sahelian range, the species is vulnerable to habitat degradation through wood harvesting, overgrazing, burning and exposure to pesticides (Thiollay 2007).

BirdLife International. 2015. European Red List of Birds. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 1994. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 2: New World Vultures to Guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Demerdzhiev, D., Dobrev, V. and Popgeorgiev, G. 2014. Effects of Habitat Change on Territory Occupancy, Breeding Density and Breeding Success of Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus Cretzschmar, 1927) in Besaparski Ridove Special Protection Area (Natura 2000), Southern Bulgaria. Acta Zoologica Bulgarica Supplement 5: 191-200.

Ferguson-Lees, J. and Christie, D.A. 2001. Raptors of the world. Christopher Helm, London.

Friedemann, G., Yom-Tov, Y., Motro, U. and Leshem, Y. 2011. Shift in nesting ground of the long-legged buzzard (Buteo rufinus) in Judea, Israel - An effect of habitat change. Biological Conservation 144(1): 402-406.

Global Raptor Information Network. 2015. Species account: Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus. Available at: (Accessed: 08/07/2015).

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

Mebs, T. and Schmidt, D. 2006. Die Greifvögel Europas, Nordafrikas und Vorderasiens. Kosmos Verlag.

STRIX. 2012. Developing and testing the methodology for assessing and mapping the sensitivity of migratory birds to wind energy development. BirdLife International, Cambridge.

Thiollay, J.-M. 2007. Raptor population decline in West Africa. Ostrich 78(2): 405-413.

Wu, Y-Q., Ma, M., Xu. F., Ragyov, D., Shergalin, J., Liu, N-A. and Dixon, A. 2008. Breeding biology and diet of the Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus) in the eastern Junggar Basin of northwestern China. Journal of Raptor Research 42(4): 273-280.

Further web sources of information
Detailed regional assessment and species account from the European Red List of Birds (BirdLife International, 2015)

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Khwaja, N., Symes, A. & Ashpole, J

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2015) Species factsheet: Buteo rufinus. Downloaded from on 29/11/2015. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2015) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 29/11/2015.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Long-legged buzzard (Buteo rufinus) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles)
Species name author (Cretzschmar, 1827)
Population size 100000-499999 mature individuals
Population trend Stable
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 8,890,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- 2015 European Red List assessment