The eastern buzzard

Writer: Isaac Cohen  |  Editor: Zhang Chanwen  |  From: Shenzhen Daily

An eastern buzzzard is seen gliding across the sky in Futian Mangrove Ecological Park. Photos by Isaac Cohen

The eastern buzzzard

The eastern buzzard (Buteo japonicus), also known as the Japanese buzzard, is a medium-sized bird of prey that visits our city on its route of migration to warmer lands during the winter. With its distinctive appearance and fascinating behavior, the eastern buzzard plays an essential role in the ecosystems it inhabits.


This amazing buzzard is characterized by its robust build, broad wingspan, and short, hooked beak. It typically grows up to 55 centimeters long, with an impressive wingspan of approximately 1.4 meters. The plumage of this species varies greatly, ranging from dark brown to pale brown with streaks or bars. Adult birds often exhibit a prominent white or light-colored throat patch, while juveniles have more mottled plumage and lack the throat patch.


An eastern buzzzard is seen gliding across the sky in Futian Mangrove Ecological Park.

Eastern buzzards are known for their remarkable migratory behavior. They breed in temperate and boreal forests across eastern Asia, including Japan, China, and parts of Russia. As winter approaches, they undertake extensive journeys, migrating to warmer regions in Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and even as far as the Indonesian archipelago.


These beautiful birds are monogamous, forming long-term pair bonds. The breeding season typically begins in early spring, when the male performs aerial displays to attract a mate, showcasing spectacular flight maneuvers and calling loudly. The female lays up to three eggs per clutch, which both parents incubate for approximately a month. After hatching, the chicks are cared for by both parents, and they fledge after about 45 days.


These birds play a crucial ecological role as top predators, helping to maintain the balance of their ecosystems. By preying on small mammals, reptiles, birds, and insects, they control populations and prevent the overabundance of certain species.


Eastern buzzards are primarily carnivorous, with a diet consisting mainly of small mammals such as rodents, rabbits, and squirrels. They also feed on birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, and carrion. Employing a sit-and-wait hunting strategy, they perch on elevated vantage points and scan the ground for potential prey. Once a target is detected, they swoop quickly and accurately to capture their meal.


Their presence in an area can also serve as an indicator of a healthy ecosystem, as these birds require suitable habitats, abundant prey, and sufficient nesting sites. Thumbs up to our city for supporting these amazing creatures during their yearly journey!