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Buteo vulpinus (Steppe buzzard) 

[= Buteo buteo

Bruinjakkalsvoël [Afrikaans]; Isangxa [Xhosa]; Siimbi [Kwangali]; Khajoane (also applied to Jackal buzzard) [South Sotho]; Phakwê (generic term for some of the smaller raptors), Segôdi [Tswana]; Buizerd [Dutch]; Buse des steppes [French]; Mäusebussard [German]; Bútio-comum [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Falconiformes > Family: Accipitridae > Genus: Buteo

Buteo vulpinus (Steppe buzzard)  Buteo vulpinus (Steppe buzzard) 

Steppe buzzard, between West Coast Fossil Park and Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa. [photo H. Robertson, Iziko ©]

Steppe buzzard, between West Coast Fossil Park and Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa. [photo H. Robertson, Iziko ©]

Distribution and habitat

Breeds from eastern Europe to Siberia, heading south in the non-breeding season to southern Europe and sub-Saharan Africa. It occurs in all countries of southern Africa, but it is especially common in South Africa, Swaziland, Botswana and Zimbabwe. It generally favours open habitats, such as savanna, grassland and open woodland, often moving into mosaics of croplands.

Distribution of Steppe buzzard in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Movements and migrations

Palearctic breeding migrant, leaving its breeding grounds in September and early October then heading south to southern Africa, arriving in the period from late October-November. It eventually departs from the region in late February and March.


Its diet in southern Africa is not well-known, but it is thought to consist mainly of insects and small mammals. It does most of its foraging from a prominent perch, such as a tree or telephone pole, dropping onto the ground once it spots prey. The following food items have been recorded in its diet in southern Africa:


Not threatened.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.