Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus


Justification of Red List Category
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (extent of occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population appears to be experiencing local fluctuations, increases and declines, but the global population trend is suspected to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is suspected to be moderately large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Population justification
The European population is estimated at 13,800-22,900 pairs, which equates to 27,600-45,800 mature individuals (BirdLife International in prep.). Europe forms approximately 17% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 162,000-269,000 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed. It is placed in the band 100,000 to 499,999 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to fluctuate in response to vole populations (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). The European trend is currently estimated to be increasing (BirdLife International in prep.), largely due to a northward range expansion (Keller et al. 2020). Jennings and Sadler (2006) estimated that the Arabian population had declined by c.5% over 10 years due to habitat loss, and predicted continuing habitat loss of <20% over the following 10 years (although the species may benefit from the resulting farmland habitat). There have also been declines in the resident race in northern Africa (Global Raptor Information Network 2021). Accounting for fluctuations and a potential shift in distribution, the global population trend for this species is estimated to be stable.


Behaviour North African birds are resident, but birds breeding in Eurasia migrate south to North Africa and southern Asia, leaving their breeding grounds in August and September and returning in March and April (del Hoyo et al. 1994). It is generally observed singly, in pairs or in small family groups, but is more gregarious on migration when larger flocks can form (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). Habitat It is a species of open areas, particularly steppe and semi-desert, and has been recorded up to 3,500 m (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Diet It feeds mainly on small mammals (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Breeding site The nest is made on cliff ledges and crags (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Management information Birds require sufficient outcrops, trees or disused nests on which to build their own nests (del Hoyo et al. 1994).


The population in Israel declined as a result of pesticide poisoning in the 1950s, but has since recovered (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001), however afforestation remains a threat (Friedemann et al. 2011). It is very highly vulnerable to the impacts of potential wind energy developments (Strix 2012). The species is also threatened by conversion of land to agriculture, which may also reduce prey species (Jennings & Sadler 2006; Sanchez-Zapata et al. 2003). An increase in orchards and vineyards has reduced suitable habitat in Bulgaria (Demerdzhiev et al. 2014). Electrocution has also caused fatalities (Mebs and Schmidt 2006). In Saudi Arabia, stone quarrying has reduced populations (Jennings & Sadler 2006). In China and Bulgaria, rubbish and waste materials used in nest construction were identified as potential causes of nest failures (Wu et al. 2008; Milchev & Georgiev 2012). In Cyprus, poisoning (from poisoned goat carcasses intended to protect livestock from red foxes), shooting and disturbance at nest sites are the main threats (Kassinis 2009). The species has been recorded for sale at animal markets in Lebanon, Kuwait and Jordan (Abi-Said et al. 2018; Al-Sirhan & Al-Bathali 2010; Eid et al. 2011). In its Sahelian range, the species is vulnerable to habitat degradation through wood harvesting, overgrazing, burning and exposure to pesticides (Thiollay 2007). The species is sensitive to climate change, which may explain the recent northwards range expansion (Stefanescu, 2020).

Conservation actions

Conservation actions underway
The species is listed on CITES Appendix II, EU Birds Directive Annex I, CMS Appendix II and Raptors MoU Category 3. It is monitored by systematic breeding surveys in 3 European countries, representing 21% of the European countries in which it breeds (Derlink et al. 2018).


Text account compilers
Haskell, L.

Dowsett, R.J., Khwaja, N., Ashpole, J, Wheatley, H. & Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Buteo rufinus. Downloaded from on 27/06/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 27/06/2022.