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Grasshopper Buzzard Butastur rufipennis

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). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to 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.

Population justification
The global population is estimated at well over 10,000 pairs which equates to 20,000 mature individuals (Thiollay 2000). The species is reported to be generally common and locally abundant in some areas (Ferguson-Lees et al. 2001), outnumbering all other raptors except Black Kite Milvus migrans (Thiollay 2000). It is placed in the band 20,000-49,999 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be in decline locally owing to over-grazing and drought (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). A decline in non-breeding visitors to Kenya has been observed (Thiollay 2000).

Buij et al. (2013) found that nestling condition was adversely affected by environmental conditions in Sudano-Sahelian West Africa including overgrazing and deforestation. Reductions in rainfall in West Africa pose a future threat (Buij et al. 2013). Spraying for locusts could pose a threat, however the species is not known to be vulnerable to pesticides (Kemp et al. 2013).

Buij, R., Folkertsma, I., Kortekaas, K., de Iongh, H.H. and Komdeur, J. 2013. Effects of land-use change and rainfall in Sudano-Sahelian West Africa on the diet and nestling growth rates of an avian predator. Ibis 155(1): 89-101.

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

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

Kemp, A.C., Kirwan, G.M., Christie, D.A. and de Juana, E. 2013. Grasshopper Buzzard (Butastur rufipennis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. and de Juana, E. (eds), Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive, Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

Thiollay, J-M. 2000. Butastur rufipennis Grasshopper Buzzard. In: Verdoorn, G.H., Bildstein, K.L. and Ellis, S. (eds), Selected African Falconiformes conservation assessment and management plan, pp. 37-38. IUCN/SSC Conservation Breeding Specialist Group, Apple Valley, MN.

Further web sources of information
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
Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S. & Ashpole, J

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2015) Species factsheet: Butastur rufipennis. Downloaded from on 01/12/2015. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2015) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 01/12/2015.

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.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles)
Species name author (Sundevall, 1851)
Population size 20000-49999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 7,780,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- Projected distributions under climate change