Forest Buzzard Buteo trizonatus


Taxonomic note

Buteo oreophilus and B. trizonatus (del Hoyo and Collar 2014) were previously lumped as B. oreophilus following Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993).

Taxonomic source(s)
Clark, W. S. 2007. Taxonomic status of the Forest Buzzard Buteo oreophilus trizonatus. Ostrich 78(1): 101-104.
del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 1: Non-passerines. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International, Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge, UK.

IUCN Red list criteria met and history
Red List criteria met
Critically Endangered Endangered Vulnerable
- - D1

Red List history
Year Category Criteria
2021 Near Threatened D1
2017 Near Threatened D1
2016 Least Concern
2014 Least Concern
Species attributes

Migratory status full migrant Forest dependency High
Land mass type Average mass -

Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence breeding/resident (km2) 179,000 medium
Extent of Occurrence non-breeding (km2) 869,000 medium
Number of locations -
Severely Fragmented -
Population and trend
Value Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
No. of mature individuals 670-6700 poor suspected 2009
Population trend Stable suspected -
Decline (3 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (5 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (10 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (10 years/3 generation future) - - -
Decline (10 years/3 generation past and future) - - -
Number of subpopulations - - -
Percentage in largest subpopulation - - -
Generation length (yrs) 6.94 - - -

Population justification: The population is estimated to number 1,000-10,000 individuals, roughly equating to 670-6,700 mature individuals. However, a more precise estimate of the population size is urgently required.

Trend justification: There is uncertainty over the population trend. Using data from the first and second South African Bird Atlas Project (SABAP; SABAP1 1987-1992; SABAP2 2007-2014), Cooper et al. (2017) found that there was an 8% contraction in range.  Lee et al. (2017) suggest a range decline of 14% with a core range decline of 3% between the SABAP recording periods. Additionally, data from Global Forest Watch suggest that over the past 21 years (three generations), there has been negligible forest loss in the species' range (Global Forest Watch 2021). 
However, the spread of plantations within its range is potentially beneficial for the species, with the afforestation of grasslands increasing the potential habitat (see e.g., Allan et al. 1997; Cooper 2015). Such spread of plantations led Ferguson-Lees and Christie (2001) to suggest that the species may in fact be increasing. There are reports that forest buzzards use Eucaplyptus species as nesting sites (Hirsch et al. 2020).
Given the uncertainty over the trend it is tentatively assessed as stable, but further work is urgently required to assess whether the species may in fact be in decline.

Country/territory distribution
Country/Territory Occurrence status Presence Resident Breeding Non-breeding Passage
South Africa N Extant Yes

Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA)
Country/Territory IBA Name
South Africa Soutpansberg
South Africa Wolkberg Forest Belt
South Africa Blyde River Canyon
South Africa Mac-Mac Escarpment and Forests
South Africa Kaapsehoop
South Africa Songimvelo Nature Reserve
South Africa Grasslands
South Africa Maloti Drakensberg Park
South Africa KwaZulu-Natal Mistbelt Forests
South Africa Karkloof Nature Reserve
South Africa Katberg - Readsdale forest complex
South Africa Amatole Forest Complex
South Africa Woody Cape Section: Addo Elephant National Park
South Africa Tsitsikama - Plettenberg Bay
South Africa Boland Mountains
South Africa Outeniqua mountains
South Africa Langeberg Mountains
South Africa Wilderness - Sedgefield Lakes Complex

Habitats & altitude
Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Artificial/Terrestrial Plantations suitable resident
Forest Temperate major resident
Grassland Temperate suitable breeding
Altitude 0 - 1000 m Occasional altitudinal limits (max) 1500 m

Threats & impact
Threat (level 1) Threat (level 2) Impact and Stresses
Agriculture & aquaculture Livestock farming & ranching - Small-holder grazing, ranching or farming Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Species mortality
Agriculture & aquaculture Wood & pulp plantations - Agro-industry plantations Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Ecosystem degradation, Reduced reproductive success

Purpose Primary form used Life stage used Source Scale Level Timing
Pets/display animals, horticulture - - - International Non-trivial Recent

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Buteo trizonatus. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 01/04/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 01/04/2023.