Rough-legged Buzzard

Buteo lagopus



A burly, medium-sized raptor, which may appear similar to the Buzzard but is separable with care. There are slight differences in the sexes. The adult male is grey-brown on the upperparts, and he has a white tail with a dark terminal band and a smaller bar. The underparts are pale except for the head, a patch on either wing, the dark wing tips and trailing edge of the wings. The female is slightly larger than the male; her plumage is mostly the same, though her belly is darker and she only has one dark band on her tail. Juvenile birds resemble female adults, but the dark markings are more subtle.


Prefers coastal marshes, grassland and other open territories. Coastal sites are the most common habitat for the birds in Britain, provided there are nearby woods for roosting.


This bird hovers more regularly then the Buzzard and often does so impressively low; its wings flap with vigour, or it can be almost still in the air, searching for prey. Uses perches to scan for prey. When gliding, its wings are in a 'V' shape.


Diet consists mainly of mammals, particularly rabbits and voles, though it may also eat small birds, fish, some insects and carrion.


Is a non-breeding bird in Britain or Ireland. Female lays 3 or 4 eggs and when they've hatched, both adults feed the young. Hatchlings can fly after 40 days and are independent after a further 30 days.


Depart northern breeding grounds around August, headed south for winter. There aren't usually more than 50 sightings of these birds each year in the region.

Observation Tips

Coastal areas in East Anglia or east Kent are the best spots to see this bird in winter.


Has a call that carries a long distance, a somber sounding 'peeeeooo'.
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