The Steppe Buzzard is a common summer visitor to South Africa, migrating to our country (and much of southern, east and central Africa) from Europe and Asia when it is winter in their northern hemisphere breeding range. They can be seen in all South African provinces between September and April.
Steppe Buzzards are medium-sized raptors, with a wingspan of 1.3m and a weight of around 550-900g. Females are noticeably larger than males. They are usually seen singly, in pairs or small family groups, but do form large flocks numbering 100 or more while migrating.
Steppe Buzzards utilise a wide range of habitats, but do require at least some tree cover for roosting and nesting. When visiting our southern environs they show a preference for open habitats, ranging from grasslands, arid scrub and fynbos to savannas and open woodland, as well as croplands. They prey mostly on small mammals, birds, reptiles and invertebrates, often using utility poles and fences as perches from which to attack, and will scavenge from carcasses.
Some authorities consider the Steppe Buzzard to be a subspecies of the Common, or Eurasian, Buzzard (Buteo buteo) which the IUCN considers to be of least concern with a population estimated in the millions.