British Wildlife Wiki

The Rough-legged Buzzard (Buteo lagopus), is a medium-large bird of prey. It is 50–60 centimetres (20–24 in) long with a 130 centimetres (51 in) wingspan. The breeding range is northernmost Europe, Asia, and North America. It migrates further south in winter.

It breeds on cliffs, slopes or in trees, laying about four eggs, but more in good lemming years. It hunts over open land, eating small mammals and carrion. This species, along with the Osprey, is one of the few large birds of prey to hover regularly.


This is a broad-winged raptor. Compared to the Common Buzzard, it is longer-winged and more eagle-like in appearance. Its feet are feathered to the toes as an adaptation to its arctic home range. Its toes are short for its size.

It has a wide variety of plumages, but is typically brown above and paler below, with dark belly and carpal patches. The head is typically pale.

An adult Rough-legged Buzzard has an average weight of 1,026 g, a wingspan of 134 cm, and an average total length of 53 cm. The female is typically larger than the male. The Rough-legged Buzzard has eight different morphs that vary with sex, age, and location. Both sexes exhibit both light and dark morphs, and coloration varies between juveniles and adults.

The Rough-legged Buzzard is the only hawk of its size to regularly hover over one spot, through quickly beating the tips of its wings at high speed.