Buteo augurAugur buzzard

Geographic Range

The Augur buzzard, Buteo augur, is native to the eastern coast of Africa spanning from Ethiopia to Zimbabwe, as well as a small region on the west coast between Angola and Namibia. They reside within a variety of habitats including forests, deserts, shrublands, grasslands, and mountainous regions (BirdLife International, 2016). (Amar, et al., 2010; BirdLife International, 2016; Kemp and Kirwan, 2015)


Augur buzzards occupy diverse habitats across the Ethiopian region. They prefer open spaces for hunting and forested hill country for nesting. Augur buzzards are capable of surviving in a variety of habitats, ranging from arid desserts to tropical forests, but prefer higher altitudes (Amar et al., 2010). They are often spotted on the outskirts of urban areas where human activity is low (Semwal et al., 2014). While they are a nonmigratory species, juveniles will reside away from the nesting sites in which they were born (Amar et al., 2010). (Amar, et al., 2010; BirdLife International, 2016; "Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Augur Buzzards", 2021; Kemp and Kirwan, 2015; Semwal, et al., 2014; Virani, 1999)

  • Range elevation
    0 to 5,000 m
    0.00 to ft

Physical Description

Augur buzzards are large, dark colored birds with a lightly colored underside and reddish tail. As an adult, most of the body consists of darker plumage (black to dark grey), while the underside can range from bright white to a dark grey. Juveniles are dark brown with a pale underside. Augur buzzards have yellow beaks with a black tip, and yellow legs and feet. Females are typically larger than males, but sexes are otherwise morphologically similar. Weight ranges from 1,100 to 1,330 grams for females while males range from 880 to 1,160 grams. Both sexes can grow around 48 to 60 cm tall and reach a wingspan of 120 to 149 cm ("Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Augur Buzzards", 2021). (Amar, et al., 2010; "Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Augur Buzzards", 2021; Kemp and Kirwan, 2015)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • female larger
  • Range mass
    880 to 1,330 g
    31.01 to oz
  • Range length
    48 to 60 cm
    18.90 to 23.62 in
  • Range wingspan
    120 to 149 cm
    47.24 to 58.66 in


Augur buzzards are typically monogamous but have been observed in polygamous relationships with new mates ("Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Augur Buzzards", 2021). Males are primarily responsible for courtship and initiation of mating attempts (Virani, 1999). However, during breeding season, both sexes will engage in flight displays and produce loud screeching calls to attract the opposite sex. They are also known to become very territorial during this time (Walls and Kenward, 2020). ("Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Augur Buzzards", 2021; Virani, 1999; Walls and Kenward, 2020)

Both parents are fully invested in raising their young. Females will lay one to three eggs per year, but only raise one hatchling. Within the first few weeks, hatchlings engage in fratricide until only one chick remains to raise to full maturity (Amar et al., 2010). This increases the probability of survival for both parents as well as the hatchling by focusing resources to one chick (Stinson, 1979). As the chick nears the fledgling stage, the female begins to take extended periods from the nest, leaving the chick to fend for itself (Virani, 1999). When the fledgling leaves the nest at about 70 days, it will establish its own territory away from the parental territory ("Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Augur Buzzards", 2021). (Amar, et al., 2010; "Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Augur Buzzards", 2021; Stinson, 1979; Virani, 1999; Walls and Kenward, 2020)

  • Breeding interval
    Augur buzzards breed once yearly
  • Breeding season
  • Range eggs per season
    1 to 3
  • Range time to hatching
    39 to 40 days
  • Average time to hatching
    40 days
  • Range fledging age
    48 to 55 days
  • Average fledging age
    50 days
  • Average time to independence
    70 days
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    3 years
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    3 years

Both parents are crucial to the success and survival of the young. Before hatching, the female will stay at the nest to prepare for incubating the eggs and protecting the hatchlings while the male provides nesting materials. As the hatchlings mature, the female starts to venture from the nest to assist with gathering food and nest materials, and eventually limit the time at the nest to occasional daily checks (Virani, 1999). (Virani, 1999; Walls and Kenward, 2020)

  • Parental Investment
  • altricial
  • male parental care
  • female parental care
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • male
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • male
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • male
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-independence
    • provisioning
      • male
      • female


Augur buzzards live for 20 to 25 years in the wild (“What is a Buzzard?”, 2014). Long term studies have seen individuals returning to their nesting sites for up to 30 consecutive years (Virani 1999). Captive animals are known to live 10 to 15 years longer than their wild counterparts (“What is a Buzzard?”, 2014). (Virani, 1999; "What is a Buzzard?", 2014)

  • Typical lifespan
    Status: wild
    20 to 25 years
  • Typical lifespan
    Status: captivity
    35 to 40 years


Augur buzzards are generally sedentary and solitary, outside of paired mates ("Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Augur Buzzards", 2021). Due to their territorial nature, individuals or mates will defend a territory from other individuals of the same species (Walls and Kenward, 2020). ("Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Augur Buzzards", 2021; Kemp and Kirwan, 2015; Virani, 1999; Walls and Kenward, 2020)

  • Range territory size
    5 to 35 km^2

Home Range

Augur buzzards are generally a stationary species that remain within their chosen range for the majority of their lives (Virani, 1999); however, young individuals are known to roam while searching for a permanent place of residence ("Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Augur Buzzards", 2021). ("Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Augur Buzzards", 2021; Virani, 1999)

Communication and Perception

Augur buzzards are noisy, with a distinct, short, yelping call that can be heard year-round, but more frequently during breeding season ("Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Augur Buzzards", 2021). They also put on flight displays when attracting mates and defending their territory (Virani, 1999). ("Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Augur Buzzards", 2021; Kemp and Kirwan, 2015; Virani, 1999)

  • Other Communication Modes
  • duets

Food Habits

Augur buzzards are carnivorous, preying mainly on small terrestrial vertebrates and insects. They capture their prey after spotting from branches or while hovering over their desired target (Amar et al., 2010). They have been known to target larger vertebrates such as hares and chickens during winter months, but prefer to track and hunt smaller prey, such as rodents, small birds, or reptiles during times of the year where food sources are more abundant ("Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Augur Buzzards", 2021). Buzzards eat anywhere from 15 to 30% of their body weight per day (Walls and Kenward, 2020). (Amar, et al., 2010; "Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Augur Buzzards", 2021; Walls and Kenward, 2020)

  • Primary Diet
  • carnivore
    • eats terrestrial vertebrates
  • Animal Foods
  • birds
  • mammals
  • amphibians
  • reptiles
  • insects


Augur buzzards, like many birds of prey, have no significant predators. The biggest threat to their population is human deforestation, which has little effect to their population as they are a very adaptable species that has become well suited for living in the outskirts of urban areas (Amar et al., 2010). They are also negatively affected by the cultural beliefs of some communities within east Africa. The birds are hunted for various body parts, such as their legs and feathers, to be used in ritualistic ceremonies (Tidemann and Gosler, 2010). (Amar, et al., 2010; Tidemann and Gosler, 2010)

Ecosystem Roles

Augur buzzards excel at pest management in both urban and non-urban environments. This leads to a benefit of population control of small vertebrates, as African raptors are often the top predators for pest populations. They also serve as a natural pest control for urban and agricultural settings by keeping the local songbird and rodent population at bay (Amar et al., 2018). (Amar, et al., 2018)

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • creates habitat

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Augur buzzards benefit farmers by controlling pest populations of rodents and birds that feed on common crops such as rice, wheat, sorghum, maize, millet, and sugarcane. Birding is also a very popular tourist attraction in east Africa, with birds of prey being one of the most sought-after groups in the birding communities (Amar et al., 2018). (Amar, et al., 2018)

  • Positive Impacts
  • ecotourism
  • research and education
  • controls pest population

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Little research has been done on the interactions between the Augur Buzzard and humans, so little information is available on their economic impact (Amar et al., 2018). However, as a symbol in some cultures, Buteo augur represent both good and bad omens, meaning that they are respectfully feared (Tidemann and Gosler, 2010). (Amar, et al., 2018; Tidemann and Gosler, 2010)

Conservation Status

Augur buzzards are the most common buzzard in east Africa with a stable population and no known threats (Amar et al., 2010). Populations have moved over the past 30 years (Amar et al., 2018), with the most notable being the decrease of nesting sites in the region of Lake Naivasha (Kenya), known for its diverse wildlife. It is hypothesized that the decrease is due to regional population shifts, likely caused by the introduction of farmland to the area (Buechley, 2011). However, the number of individuals has stayed relatively stable (BirdLife International, 2016). (Amar, et al., 2018; Amar, et al., 2010; BirdLife International, 2016; Buechley, 2011)

Other Comments

An Augur Buzzard is the official mascot of the Seattle Seahawks! ("Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Augur Buzzards", 2021)


Brittany Tyson (author), Colorado State University, Nathan Dorff (editor), Colorado State University, Tanya Dewey (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.

World Map


uses sound to communicate


living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.


young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.


Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


an animal that mainly eats meat


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

desert or dunes

in deserts low (less than 30 cm per year) and unpredictable rainfall results in landscapes dominated by plants and animals adapted to aridity. Vegetation is typically sparse, though spectacular blooms may occur following rain. Deserts can be cold or warm and daily temperates typically fluctuate. In dune areas vegetation is also sparse and conditions are dry. This is because sand does not hold water well so little is available to plants. In dunes near seas and oceans this is compounded by the influence of salt in the air and soil. Salt limits the ability of plants to take up water through their roots.

  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.

to jointly display, usually with sounds in a highly coordinated fashion, at the same time as one other individual of the same species, often a mate


humans benefit economically by promoting tourism that focuses on the appreciation of natural areas or animals. Ecotourism implies that there are existing programs that profit from the appreciation of natural areas or animals.


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females


union of egg and spermatozoan


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

male parental care

parental care is carried out by males


Having one mate at a time.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.


This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


remains in the same area


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


lives alone


uses touch to communicate


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).


Living on the ground.


defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.


A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.


living in cities and large towns, landscapes dominated by human structures and activity.


uses sight to communicate


2021. "Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Augur Buzzards" (On-line). Wild Life in Safari. Accessed February 14, 2021 at https://wildlifesafari.info/augur_buzzard.htm.

2014. "What is a Buzzard?" (On-line). World Bird Sanctuary. Accessed February 14, 2021 at http://world-bird-sanctuary.blogspot.com/2014/09/what-is-buzzard.html#:~:text=Augur%20Buzzards%20range%20from%2020,to%20live%2035%2D40%20years..

Amar, A., R. Buij, J. Suri, P. Sumasgutner, M. Virani. 2018. Birds of Prey. Springer International Publishing: Research Gate. Accessed February 14, 2021 at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/326086717_Conservation_and_Ecology_of_African_Raptors.

Amar, A., V. Obodi, M. Virani. 2010. "Augur Buzzard" (On-line). The Peregrine Fund Global Raptor Information Network. Accessed February 14, 2021 at http://www.globalraptors.org/grin/SpeciesResults.asp?specID=8182.

BirdLife International, 2016. "Buteo augur" (On-line). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Accessed February 14, 2021 at https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/22732019/95040751.

Buechley, E. 2011. Augur Buzzard Declines at Lake Naivasha. The East African Wildlife Society, July-September 2011: 54-56. Accessed February 14, 2021 at https://assets.peregrinefund.org/docs/pdf/research-library/2011/2011-Buechley-augur-buzzard.pdf.

Kemp, A., G. Kirwan. 2015. "Augur Buzzard" (On-line). Birds of the World. Accessed February 14, 2021 at https://birdsoftheworld.org/bow/species/augbuz1/cur/introduction.

Semwal, K., A. Dhyani, K. Weldegerima. 2014. A Glimpse of Ethiopian Birds. Science Reporter, September 2014: 52-54. Accessed February 14, 2021 at http://nopr.niscair.res.in/bitstream/123456789/29383/1/SR%2051(9)%2052-54.pdf.

Stinson, C. 1979. On the Selective Advantage of Fratricide in Raptors. Evolution, Vol. 33, No. 4: 1219-1225. Accessed February 14, 2021 at https://www.jstor.org/stable/2407480.

Tidemann, S., A. Gosler. 2010. Ethno-Ornithology: Birds, Indigenous Peoples, Culture, and Society. London, UK: Earthscan. Accessed February 12, 2021 at https://books.google.com/books?id=8u2nUWLYx18C&lpg=PA279&ots=bSTnYdmJwj&dq=augur%20buzzard%20impact&lr&pg=PR4#v=onepage&q&f=false.

Virani, M. 1999. "The Breeding Ecology and Behavior of the Augur Buzzard Buteo augur in Relation to Different Land-Uses in the Southern Lake Naivasha Area, Kenya" (On-line). Accessed February 14, 2021 at https://leicester.figshare.com/articles/thesis/The_breeding_ecology_and_behaviour_of_the_augur_buzzard_Buteo_augur_in_relation_to_different_land-uses_in_the_southern_Lake_Naivasha_area_Kenya/10153184/1.

Walls, S., R. Kenward. 2020. The Common Buzzard. United Kingdom: Bloomsbury Publishing. Accessed February 14, 2021 at https://books.google.com/books?id=2Oy9DwAAQBAJ&lpg=PP1&ots=_2LQsVbgSv&dq=augur%20buzzard%20behavior&lr&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false.