Members of the genus Buteo are broad-winged, broad-tailed hawks, Well adapted for soaring. The bill, legs and talons are of average proportions. There is much colour variation both within the species, and, by way of phases, within individual species. In all cases the young are quite different from adults in that they are all well camouflaged with an overall brown appearance with varying amounts of striping below and paler mottling above.
The 25 species are spread worldwide with the exception of Australasia and much of the Indian sub-continent.
The adult plumage is acquired by a series of moults starting at about nine months with wing and tail quills, continuing with contour feathers from twelve months. The first moult is complete at eighteen to twenty months, but the full adult plumage is not acquired for two-and-a-half to three years. In the course of these moults the upper side darkens, the tail loses its bars, and the under side becomes more chestnut with fewer dark markings.
Main differences in the other races are:
Buteo rufofuscus augur of East Africa is white below, including wing coverts, with dark spots on sides of throat and upper breast.
There is a melanistic form of Buteo rufofuscus augur. It is all black, except for grey and black barred wing quills and a chestnut tail. About 10% are melanistic, but the proportion rises in forested areas with high rainfall to as much as 50% in some areas.
Buteo rufofuscus archeri, in Somalia, is slightly smaller, has more chestnut in the feathers of the upper parts, and in adult plumage has the throat white with black on the sides, with the rest of the under side rich chestnut. Immatures have a white under side and a barred tail, and the plain chestnut tail is acquired before the chestnut of the under side of the body.
Listen to the sound of Augur Buzzard
Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto
|wingspan min.:||125||cm||wingspan max.:||135||cm|
|size min.:||55||cm||size max.:||60||cm|
|incubation min.:||38||days||incubation max.:||42||days|
|fledging min.:||45||days||fledging max.:||55||days|
At the onset of the breeding season (which, while generally corresponding with dry weather, is fairly elastic and extends into wet seasons in some areas) mating occurs on trees or on crags. The nest is built on either trees or crags, but in East Africa is normally on trees. Pairs often have more than one nest. The nest is a substantial structure of sticks, up to three feet across and two deep, used year after year, and becoming bulkier with age.
Two eggs are laid, creamy or bluish white, rough and glossless, with sparse streaks and blotches of red-brown and grey or mauve. Incubation is by the female only , and food is brought to her on the nest by the male, or received by her near it; sometimes she leaves the nest to feed herself. The period is around 40 days.
The young are at first helpless and they are brooded closely by the female, but by ten days old she leaves them for considerable periods, though remaining in the vicinity. The male brings prey, and much calling occurs between the parents at this time; the female may receive the prey on the nest, or on a perch, and will sometimes fly to meet the male. The young continue to be fed until well on in the fledging period, up to 40-45 days old, when they are well feathered. At 56-60 days they are able to fly from branch to branch, and at 70 days become independent of the nest. Young birds may then be seen with the adult pair for some time. In South Africa fledging periods are shorter, 46-51 days
Video Augur Buzzard
copyright: Keith Blomerley
The chestnut or white under parts contrasting strongly with the blackish back; in adult plumage, the chestnut tail are good pointers. In flight the white lining of the quills, with black trailing edge, contrasting in Somali and South African races with chestnut body and under-wing coverts, is diagnostic. In flight it looks a little like a Bateleur Eagle (Terathopius Ecaudatus ) at a distance, canting from side to side, with large wings and short tail, but at close range the body colour at once distinguishes it. General habits and voice help to confirm identification.