Long-legged Buzzard

Buteo rufinus (Cretzschmar, 1827)

Buteo ferox Gmelin, 1771: Reiser, 1894: 126; Klain, 1909: 82.

Order Falconiformes

Family Accipitridae

Conservation status: in Bulgaria: Vulnerable VU=B(1a)+C, BDA-II, III; International: IUCN-VU, ECS–spec 3, endangered; BD-I, CITES-II, BeC-II, BoC-II.

General distribution. A paleoxeric species represented by two subspecies. The area of the subspecies Buteo rufinus rufinus embraces Asia (Syria, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Afganistan, Northwestern China and Mongolia) and Europe (the countries of the Balkan peninsula). Wandering or migrating birds have been registered in Italy, France, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands [1].

Distribution and abundance in Bulgaria. A resident, breeding passage migrant and wintering. After proving its breeding in the 1950s [2], new habitats were also registered [3]. The estimates of its abundance in Bulgaria increased from 50 [3], 200 – 300 [5], 250 – 400 [6], 550 – 580 [7] to 600 – 800 [8] and, according to us, the number of the breeding pairs is between 800 and 1 000 in about 500 habitats. Some of the population winters in the southern parts of the country.

Habitats. Rocks in gorges of rivers, separate rock complexes, stone quarries with open spaces around them (arable lands, pastures) that the birds use for hunting. It inhabits open hilly terrains in the feet of the mountains close to gorges of rivers.

Biology. It breeds on rock cornices, less frequently in deciduous and coniferous trees. The building of a new nest or the repairing of the old one takes place at the beginning of March, and in continuous warming also at lower altitudes – and at the end of February. The closest distance between two inhabitable nests is about 1200 m. It is tolerant to other birds of prey breeding in the region. Egg-laying starts from the first decade of March to the middle of April, and incubation – around the laying of the last egg of the clutch. In favourable years the number of the eggs and of the young ones bred is larger and reaches 4-5, or 6 in exceptional cases. A the age of about 50 days the young birds leave the nest (usually at the beginning of July) and stick around it for a week [9].

Negative factors. Degradation of the biotopes; forestation of large areas; accidental death by high-voltage lines; use of chemicals.

Conservation measures taken. Protected according to the Biological Diversity Act. Some breeding habitats are included within Protected Territories.

Conservation measures needed. Preparing Management Plans for the Protected Territories in which it is found. Taking into account the habitat requirements of birds of prey in forestry projects. Increase of the nature conservation culture of the local people.

References. 1. Simeonov et al, 1990; 2. Boev, 1962; 3. Michev et al, 1984; 4. Vatev, 1987; 5. Kostadinova, 1997; 6. BirdLife International, 2004; 7. BSPB, in press; 8. Nankinov et al, 2004; 9. Vatev, 1987.

Authors: IIliya Vatev, Ivaylo Angelov, Dobromir Domuschiev, Lyubomir Profirov

Long-legged Buzzard (distribution map)

Long-legged Buzzard (drawing)