Buteo buteo (Linnaeus, 1758) BZ BUZZA 2870
Family: Accipitriformes > Accipitridae

Buzzard, Edmund Fellowes

This familiar bird of prey is often seen perched on roadside fence posts or trees, or in soaring flight over open countryside.

Our Buzzard population has shown a remarkable recovery since a low point in the middle of the 1900s, and the species may be encountered almost anywhere across Britain and the eastern half of Ireland, with the exception of urban areas and our highest peaks.

Buzzards are rather catholic in their diet, favouring whatever prey happens to be locally abundant. In addition to Rabbits and small mammals, they also take birds, amphibians, larger insects and earthworms, the latter highlighting their willingness to forage on the ground.

Exploring the trends for Buzzard

Our Trends Explorer will also give you the latest insight into how the UK's Buzzard population is changing.

trends explorer


Buzzard identification is often straightforward. The following article may help when identifying Buzzard.

related video

Identifying Eagles

Golden Eagle. Photograph by Sarah Kelman

Eagles are simply magnificent, and the assumption is that they will be easy to identify. But distant views of birds can lead to confusion with Buzzard, and now we have to consider two species of eagle - Golden and White-tailed. Here we look at how you can confidently separate all three species of large raptor.


Listen to example recordings of the main vocalisations of Buzzard, provided by xeno-canto contributors.

Begging call

Flight call

Alarm call

Develop your bird ID skills with our training courses

Our interactive online courses are a great way to develop your bird identification skills, whether you're new to the hobby or a competent birder looking to hone your abilities.

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Status and Trends

Population size and trends and patterns of distribution based on BTO surveys and atlases with data collected by BTO volunteers.


This species can be found on the following statutory and conservation listings and schedules.



The Buzzard has shown a substantial eastward range expansion since the 1988-91 Atlas and is now an almost ubiquitous breeding bird in the UK (Balmer et al. 2013). For more than a decade it has been the most abundant UK raptor (Clements 2002). The increasing trend identified by the CBC relates especially to the spread of range into central and eastern Britain, where CBC was strongly represented. If anything, however, the upsurge has been amplified with the addition of the more widely representative BBS data since 1994. Results from a transect survey specifically targeting Buzzards in central southern England, between 2011 and 2016, were in line with the BBS southern region trend (Stevens, M et al. 2019). The BBS map of change in relative density between 1994-96 and 2007-09 indicates that, apart from some small pockets of decrease on Dartmoor and Exmoor, in Wales and on the Isle of Lewis, increase has occurred generally throughout the UK range. BBS suggests that numbers in Scotland and Wales are stable over the most recent 10-year period. There has been an increase across Europe since 1980, though with little change and possibly a slight decline since 1990 (PECBMS: PECBMS 2020a>). Though breeding success is still rising overall, a decrease in productivity has been documented in Avon, per pair but not per unit area, as the population has risen (Prytherch 2013) .

Exploring the trends for Buzzard

Our Trends Explorer will also give you the latest insight into how the UK's Buzzard population is changing.

trends explorer


Buzzards are now widespread year-round all across Britain and in the eastern half of Ireland. Densities are still lower in eastern England than elsewhere.

Occupied 10-km squares in UK

European Distribution Map

European Breeding Bird Atlas 2

Relative frequency by habitat

Relative occurrence in different habitat types during the breeding season.

>Bar of similar size indicate the species is equally likely to be recorded in those habitats


The range has more than doubled and spread eastwards since the 1970s.

Change in occupied 10-km squares in the UK


Buzzards are present year-round.

Weekly occurence of Buzzard from BirdTrack
Weekly occurrence patterns (shaded cells) and reporting rates (vertical bars) based on BirdTrack data. Reporting rates give the likelihood of encountering the species each week.


Information about movement and migration based on online bird portals (e.g. BirdTrack), Ringing schemes and tracking studies.

An overview of year-round movements for the whole of Europe can be seen on the EuroBirdPortal viewer.


View a summary of recoveries in the Online Ringing Report.

Foreign locations of birds ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland

Foreign locations of Buzzard ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland
Encountered in: Winter (Nov-Feb); Spring (Mar-Apr); Summer (May-Jul); Autumn (Aug-Oct)


Lifecycle and body size information about Buzzard, including statistics on nesting, eggs and lifespan based on BTO ringing and nest recording data.


Exploring the trends for Buzzard

Our Trends Explorer will also give you the latest insight into how the UK's Buzzard population is changing.

trends explorer


View number ringed each year in the Online Ringing Report

Exploring the trends for Buzzard

Our Trends Explorer will also give you the latest insight into how the UK's Buzzard population is changing.

trends explorer


Feather measurements and photos on featherbase


For information in another language (where available) click on a linked name

Gaelic: Clamhan
Welsh: Bwncath
Catalan: aligot comú
Czech: káne lesní
Danish: Musvåge
Dutch: Buizerd
Estonian: hiireviu
Finnish: hiirihaukka
French: Buse variable
German: Mäusebussard
Hungarian: egerészölyv
Icelandic: Músvákur
Irish: Clamhán
Italian: Poiana
Latvian: pelu klijans
Lithuanian: paprastasis suopis
Norwegian: Musvåk
Polish: myszolów (zwyczajny)
Portuguese: águia-d'asa-redonda
Slovak: myšiak hôrny
Slovenian: kanja
Spanish: Busardo ratonero
Swedish: ormvråk
Folkname: Puttock


Interpretation and scientific publications about Buzzard from BTO scientists.


Causes of change

There is good evidence that the increase in population numbers is associated with rapidly improving nesting success, which has been linked to reduced persecution (and therefore improved survival) and increased food supplies, for example due to the recovery of rabbit populations from the effects of myxomatosis. It is not possible to say which is the more important driver.

Further information on causes of change

As the figures above show, there has been an increase in the number of fledglings per breeding attempt and a decrease in daily failure rates at the egg stage. As such, the increase in population numbers has been associated with rapidly improving nesting success, through reduced persecution, the recovery of rabbit populations from the effects of myxomatosis and release from the deleterious effects of organochlorine pesticides (Elliott & Avery 1991, Sim et al. 2000, 2001a, Clements 2002). Numbers of Buzzard were relatively stable until the late 1980s when the population size began increasing steeply. Elliott & Avery (1991) analysed data collected by the RSPB to provide good evidence that, during 1975-89, persecution was a factor in restricting the Buzzard's range. Halley (1993) found that levels of persecution in Scotland had fallen and postulated that this was a factor in the increase in Buzzard population size. In a study of two local populations in Scotland, Swann & Etheridge (1995) provided some evidence to show that persecution was a factor in restricting population density at the site that benefited from higher productivity, although they did not specifically analyse the effects of persecution. Sim et al. (2000) provide good evidence from Buzzard populations in the West Midlands that persecution levels, especially poisonings, were lower in the 1990s when the population started increasing and state that higher survival rate due to reduced persecution was likely to be one of the main factors responsible for the rapid increase in the Buzzard population in this area. Gibbons et al. (1995) found that Buzzards were less common in the uplands where grouse moors were most frequent, stating that this was due to either persecution, unsuitable habitat management or lack of food, although did not specify which was the most important driver.

There is also good evidence to support the role of changing food availability in population increases. Graham et al. (1995) showed that Buzzard breeding density was positively related to lagomorph abundance and Swann & Etheridge (1995) found that Buzzards laid larger clutches, produced bigger broods and had significantly higher productivity where rabbits were more common. Sim et al. (2000, 2001a) also provided good evidence that increased productivity coincided with an increase in rabbit abundance. Other studies have also found that breeding success is related to food availability (Kostrzewa & Kostrzewa 1991, Austin & Houston 1997, Goszczynski 1997, 2001, Rooney et al. 2015). It is, therefore, plausible that Buzzard distribution is influenced by rabbit abundance, which has increased since rabbits have overcome the effects of myxomatosis. However, more recent declines in rabbit populations, which have been shown through BBS mammal monitoring, have not stalled the upward trend in the Buzzard population. Diet can be highly variable between years and across different geographical areas: see review in chapter 2 in Walls & Kenward (2020). A study on a Scottish grouse moor found that voles were an important prey item during both the breeding season and winter at that site, and suggested that the proportion of small mammals in prey may not necessarily be accurately estimated in studies looking at prey remains (Francksen et al. 2016a, 2016b, 2019). The same study also found that Buzzard did not switch to grouse in poor vole years (Francksen et al. 2017).

Habitat change may have played some role in the increases. High Buzzard breeding densities were associated with high proportions of unimproved pasture and mature woodland within estimated territories (Sim et al. 2000) and Sergio et al. (2002, 2005) found that Buzzard productivity benefited from the conversion of coppice woodland to mature forest in Italy. In Poland, the spread of oilseed rape has boosted vole populations (of a species not found in UK) and Buzzard productivity has correspondingly improved (Panek & Husek 2014). There is also some evidence that breeding success is related to climate, although there is little evidence for this from the UK. In Germany, Kostrzewa & Kostrzewa (1990) provide evidence to show that the number of young fledged was negatively correlated with rainfall in April and May. Although there is no evidence to support this, it is worth noting that these possible habitat/climate effects and food effects are not mutually exclusive.

Information about conservation actions

This species is currently among the fastest increasing species in the UK, and hence no specific conservation actions are currently required.

Reduced persecution is likely to have contributed to the increases, and therefore maintaining low levels of persecution may be important if the current population level is to be sustained.

There is some evidence that rabbit abundance may influence the distribution and abundance of buzzard and hence maintaining rabbit populations may also be important for this species (see Causes of Change section). However, this evidence is uncertain as Buzzards can take a wide variety of prey items including voles and even invertebrates (Walls & Kenward 2020).


Peer-reviewed papers
Juvenile Greater Spotted Eagle in the nest

Long-term effects of rewilding on species composition: 22 years of raptor monitoring in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

2022 | Dombrovski, V.C., Zhurauliou, D.V. & Ashton-Butt, A.Restoration Ecology

Over 2,000 km² of Belarus previously given over to intensive agriculture and dense settlements was affected by the 1986 reactor meltdown at the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant in Ukraine.

Research Reports

Potential Future Distribution & Abundance Patterns of Common Buzzards Buteo Buteo

2018 | Jennifer A. Border, Dario Massimino, Simon Gillings

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