Wednesday 11 June 2014

Red-tailed Hawk x Common Buzzard

possible Red-tailed Hawk x Common Buzzard hybrid, or perhaps aberrant Common Buzzard, Siegelsbach (Germany), 12th August 2006 - copyright Joern Lehmhus
(plate ID: 0816)

The identity of this intriguing bird is unknown but escaped Red-tailed Hawks in Europe have been known to breed with the local Common Buzzards, and perhaps that is the reason for this bird.  The plain red tail is clearly unlike Common Buzzards, and even Steppe Buzzards (form vulpinus) should have a complete dark subterminal tail band, which was only partial on this bird.  However Common Buzzards do show some variation in tail colour, a minority being distinctly reddish.  Although this one seems to be outside of normal variation the possibility that it is simply an unusual Common Buzzard, and not a hybrid, has not been eliminated.  Moreover the possibility of it being a hybrid involving an eastern form (Steppe Buzzard or Long-legged Buzzard), whilst unlikely, is not ruled out.

Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis
Common Buzzard Buteo buteo 
Steppe Buzzard Buteo (buteo) vulpinus
Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus


  1. I'm quite sure I've just seen one of these outside our house in Somerset. It was sat on a post eating,when it went to fly off it spread it's wings and had a very obviously dark orange tail. It was very large for a buzzard, there are lots around here and this was quite obviously different.

  2. Had a Falconer from Reading who about 30 years ago flew a aviary bred Red tail x Buzzard. He lost it after 2 years & attempted a number of times to recapture but failed. It stayed in the area & paired up with a Common Buzzard & reared young. So there are a few 25% Redtail X 75% Common Buzzards around. Imagine the times Red tails have been lost by Falconers in this country, plus how successful Common Buzzards have been over the last 20 years. The genetic kick up the pants they have received could have something to do with that.

  3. Seen on the corner of livingstone Road at top of large tree