Bird Families

Redback Buzzard


The red-backed buzzard has a body size of 56 cm, and a wingspan of 110 to 120 cm.Its weight reaches 950 g.

Red-backed Buzzard (Geranoaetus polyosoma)

This species of buzzards has rather long wings and legs. The tail is of medium length. The silhouette in flight is very similar to the appearance of other representatives of but onid s. This one is polymorphic in plumage color, which means that birds have at least 2 different plumage colors. However, clear predominant shades and dark tones are relatively rare.

  • Birds with light coloration have gray plumage, with the exception of the forehead and cheeks, which are veined in black. The lower parts of the body are white, with discrete gray stripes on the sides. The tail is white with a wide black stripe. The female is dark gray above, darker than the male. Her head and wings appear blacker. The sides are completely reddish, with a reddish tint often visible in the center of the belly.
  • In the dark-colored form of the male, the plumage above and below varies from dark gray to black. All feathers have slightly clearer strokes. The plumage of the female on the head, wings, lower back, chest, thighs and at the base of the tail below is grayish-black. The rest of the feathers are more or less brown with a penetration of gray and blackish tones. This species of buzzards has rather long wings and legs.

    Females have a different form of plumage: the head and upper parts of the body are dark, but the belly, thighs and anal area are whitish with abundant stripes of gray-slate color. The chest is surrounded by a more or less imperceptible stripe. Young red-backed buzzards have black-brown feathers on top with wide suede enlightenments, which are especially visible on the wings. The tail is gray in color with numerous thin black strokes. The underside of the body ranges from white to chamois. The chest is in brown stripes. Dark-colored and light-colored forms are also found among young birds.

    Habitats of the red-backed buzzard

    Red-backed buzzards, as a rule, are found in more or less open places. These birds can be seen in temperate places in the Andes Valley in northern South America, less often on mountain plateaus above the line of trees, among the dry tropical plains and hills along the Pacific coast, as well as in the plains in the dry steppes of Patagonia.

    Red-backed buzzards usually prefer dense forest areas or slopes that stretch along rivers, in humid forests, at the foot of the mountains, or in some areas of the Nothofagus beech trees. In the mountains, they rise from sea level to 4600 meters. However, they are most often kept at an altitude of between 1,600 and 3,200 meters. In Patagonia, they are above 500 meters.

    Red-backed buzzards are found in open areas

    Redback Buzzard distribution

    The red-backed buzzard lives in the western and southern parts of South America.

    The habitat covers the southwest of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, the southwest of Bolivia, almost all of Chile, Argentina and Uruguay. This species of bird of prey is completely absent from Venezuela, Guiana and Brazil. But it is found on Tierra del Fuego, Cap Horn, and even the Falklands.

    Features of the behavior of the red-backed buzzard

    Red-backed buzzards live alone or in pairs. These birds often spend the night on rocks, on the ground, on poles, fences, a large cactus or branches, which allows them to survey their surroundings. Sometimes they are slightly hidden by the canopy of tall trees.

    Like many birds of the Buteo genus, red-backed buzzards fly high in the sky, singly or in pairs. There is no information about other acrobatic stunts. In some regions, red-backed buzzards are resident birds, but in most cases, they migrate. Between March and November, and from May to September, their numbers decrease markedly in the center and north of Argentina. Birds of prey have been reported to travel to neighboring countries such as southeastern Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay and southern Brazil.

    The nesting season of red-backed buzzards differs in its timing, depending on the country in which the birds live.

    Reproduction of the red-backed buzzard

    The nesting season for red-backed buzzards differs in terms of its timing, depending on the country in which the birds live. They breed from December to July in Ecuador and maybe Colombia. September to January in Chile, Argentina and the Falklands. Red-backed buzzards build a nest from branches, rather large, ranging in size from 75 to 100 centimeters in diameter.

    Birds of prey nest in the same bird nest several times in a row, so its size grows regularly from year to year.

    The inside of the nest is lined with green leaves, moss, lichens and various debris collected from the surrounding area. The nest is usually located at a low height, from 2 to 7 meters, on a cactus, thorny bush, tree, telegraph pole, rock ledge or stone. Birds sometimes settle on the side of a steep hill in dense grass. The number of eggs in a clutch depends on the region of habitat.

    In Ecuador, there are usually 1 or 2 eggs per nest. In Chile and Argentina, there are 2 or 3 eggs in a clutch. Incubation lasts 26 or 27 days. The emergence of young birds occurs within 40 and 50 days after emergence.

    Red-backed buzzards feed mainly on mammals

    Redback Buzzard Feeding

    Nine-tenths of the diet of red-backed buzzards consists of mammals. Birds of prey prey on rodents such as guinea pigs (cavia), octodons, tuco-tucos and young garenne rabbits. They catch grasshoppers, frogs, lizards, birds (young or injured), and snakes.

    Red-backed buzzards often hunt in flight, allowing themselves to be carried by updrafts, or simply hover. If the prey is not found, then the birds soar higher up to a hundred meters before leaving the hunting area. Birds of prey also hunt in fields, cactus thickets or hills. In the mountains or at high altitudes, they are active all day long.

    Red-backed buzzards often hunt in flight

    Conservation status of the red-backed buzzard

    The red-backed buzzard spreads over an area of ‚Äč‚Äčabout 4.5 million square kilometers. To this should be added about 1.2 million sq. M. km, where birds of prey winter in the cold season in South Africa. Density has not been calculated, but most observers agree that this species is relatively common in the Andes and Patagonia. In the foothills and mountains of Ecuador, the red-backed buzzard is the most common bird. In Colombia, in regions located above the tree line, this feathered predator is most common.

    While bird numbers are in slight decline in Ecuador, Chile and Argentina, it is recognized that the population is over 100,000. The Redback Buzzard is classified as Least Concern with Minimal Threats.