Rough-legged Buzzard

Buteo lagopus (Pontoppidan, 1763) RF ROLBU 2900
Family: Accipitriformes > Accipitridae

Rough-legged Buzzard, Graham Catley

This species is exclusively a winter bird in Britain, visiting our shores from a breeding range that stretches from Norway east across Asia and North America.

Rough-legged Buzzards arrive in very small numbers in late autumn, favouring the English east coast and the northern isles of Scotland. The numbers arriving fluctuate markedly from year to year, and are probably dependent on feeding conditions in the breeding range.

Rough-legged Buzzards can be confused with pale morphs of their very common cousin the Buzzard, but a blackish-brown belly contrasting with pale head and neck, and a clear white base to the tail are reliable field features.

Select a topic for more facts and statistics about the Rough-legged Buzzard

  • Breeding
  • Winter


Rough-legged Buzzard identification is often difficult. The following article may help when identifying Rough-legged Buzzard.

related video

Identifying Common Buzzard and Rough-legged Buzzard

In winter, Honey-buzzard is replaced by Rough-legged Buzzard as the key confusion species with Common Buzzard. This identification video talks about the features to focus to help make it a little easier to identify this sometimes difficult pair.

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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.



Rough-legged Buzzards are scarce but regular autumn and winter visitors to the British east coast. During 2007–11 most records were from the eastern half of England, from Yorkshire to Kent, and on the Northern Isles.

Occupied 10-km squares in UK

European Distribution Map

European Breeding Bird Atlas 2



Rough-legged Buzzards are scarce winter visitors, with a pulse of migrants in late autumn in some years.

Weekly occurence of Rough-legged 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 Rough-legged 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 Rough-legged Buzzard, including statistics on nesting, eggs and lifespan based on BTO ringing and nest recording data.



Sample sizes are too small to report Biometrics for this species.

Feather measurements and photos on featherbase


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

Gaelic: Bleidir-molach
Welsh: Boda Bacsiog
Catalan: aligot calçat
Czech: káne rousná
Danish: Fjeldvåge
Dutch: Ruigpootbuizerd
Estonian: karvasjalg-viu e. taliviu
Finnish: piekana
French: Buse pattue
German: Raufußbussard
Hungarian: gatyás ölyv
Icelandic: Fjallvákur
Irish: Clamhán Lópach
Italian: Poiana calzata
Latvian: bikšainais klijans
Lithuanian: tubuotasis suopis
Norwegian: Fjellvåk
Polish: myszolów wlochaty
Portuguese: bútio-calçado
Slovak: myšiak severský
Slovenian: koconoga kanja
Spanish: Busardo calzado
Swedish: fjällvråk

Links to more information from

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