Black-breasted Buzzard

Did you know?

Black-breasted Buzzards use stones to open eggs by picking up and dropping a stone onto the egg until it breaks.

Generally silent, but vocal near the nest, with yelps and soft piping.
Facts and Figures
Research Species: 
Minimum Size: 
Maximum Size: 
Average size: 
Average weight: 
1 350g
Breeding season: 
August to September in south and centre; May to July in north
Clutch Size: 
2 eggs
40 days
Nestling Period: 
60 days
Conservation Status
Basic Information
Scientific Name: 
Featured bird groups: 
Atlas Number: 
What does it look like?

The Black-breasted Buzzard is a large dark raptor (bird of prey) with a very short, square-tipped tail. Long feathers on the nape may be raised in a short crest. White 'bull's eye' marks are seen under the wings, which are long and 'fingered' in flight. The breast is sandy-brown in light-phase birds or dark brown and black in the dark-phase. The tail is short and the wings are longer than the tail when the bird is perched. Females are larger than males. They soar high and, when flying low and hunting, often rock or sway from side to side. This species may also be called the Black-breasted Kite.

Similar species: 

The white patches in the under-wing are much brighter than in other raptors, such as the Little EagleHieraaetus morphnoides, and the tail is short, unlike the long wedge-shaped tail of the Wedge-tailed Eagle,Aquila audax. It is bigger than the Black KiteMilvus migrans.

Where does it live?

The Black-breasted Buzzard is endemic to Australia (found only there), mainly in the north and in semi-arid and arid central regions. It is rare in eastern, southern coastal or near-coastal mainlan


Black-breasted Buzzards are found in lightly timbered plains, open country and tree-lined waterways through inland Australia and in semi-arid or arid regions.

Seasonal movements: 

Buzzards are rare migrants to coastal or near coastal areas. They are partially migratory in northern Australia and sedentary in the south east, their movements being related to rainfall.

What does it do?

Black-breasted Buzzards soar high and glide low, like a harrier, looking for rabbits, ground birds, lizards and carrion (dead animals). They glide at speed and snatch food from the ground, from trees or in the air.


Black-breasted Buzzards breed throughout their range, but rarely east of about longitude 148 degrees. They may nest at any time when there is plenty of rain and may not breed at all in drought years. The nest is a platform of large, dry sticks, with smaller sticks on top.The shallow saucer is lined with green leaves. It is placed on a strong limb or fork, often in a tree along a waterway, where the Buzzard has a good view. Both parents incubate, brood and feed the young, tearing up food at the nest.

Living with us

Black-breasted Buzzards are widespread but uncommon. Removal of nesting trees may have affected numbers in the east. They are sometimes hit by cars when feeding on road kill.

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