Buteo rufinus (Long-legged buzzard / Kızıl şahin)

Buteo rufinus (Long-legged buzzard / Kızıl şahin)

Buteo rufinus (Long-legged buzzard / Kızıl şahin) from Göre, Nevşehir - 06.11.2009.

An attractive bird of prey, the long-legged buzzard is very variable in appearance, with individuals being one of three colour types – pale, rufous or dark. However, this elegant buzzard can typically be recognised by dark patches on the bend in each wing, the dark trailing edges of the wings, and a rounded, rufous tail. The long-legged buzzard also has a dark bill, brownish-yellow eyes, and long, dingy-yellow legs. Two subspecies of the long-legged buzzard are recognised, Buteo rufinusrufinus and Buteo rufinuscirtensis, which are distinguishable both by size and geographical distribution, with B. r. cirtensis being the smaller subspecies. Compared to the loud mewing of the closely related common buzzard (Buteo buteo), the call of the long-legged buzzard is somewhat quieter, with a mellower tone.

It inhabits dry open plains of northern Africa, southeastern Europe, west and central Asia east to China, and across central India. Recent sightings indicate that there is a small population in the Apulian region of south-eastern Italy. Open, uncultivated areas, with high bushes, trees, cliffs or hillocks are favoured as nesting areas. Younger birds disperse north of breeding grounds and there are records from Northern Europe. The breeding population in Greece is around 60 pairs.

The long-legged buzzard employs a number of tactics in the search for prey, including foraging in cultivated areas, hovering over open semi-arid land, and soaring on warm rising air, and scanning from fixed vantage points such as power lines and trees. Such versatility is rewarded with a wide range of prey, such as small mammals, reptiles and insects. In northwest China, the great gerbil (Rhombomys opimus) makes up the majority of the long-legged buzzard’s diet. The long-legged buzzard usually nests on cliff-sides, rocky ledges or in trees bordering open land, and often this species will often reconstruct nests abandoned by other birds. Female long-legged buzzards typically lay three to five eggs once a year which are incubated for 33 to 35 days, and the chicks remain in the nest for 43 to 45 days after hatching.

References: 1. ARKive, 2. WiKiPeDia.