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.
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Forms superspecies with B. augur and B. rufofuscus; all three sometimes considered conspecific, but differ on calls and coloration, showing disjunct distribution. Monotypic. Status of species or subspecies hiuihly debated. We follow HBW.