Irish Name: Clamhán
Scientific name: Buteo buteo
Bird Family: Raptors
Conservation status


Largely resident, though Ireland receives birds from Britain during the winter


A medium sized raptor (bird of prey) with broad wings, a compact body, short neck and medium-length tail. Has a short hooked bill suitable for eating meat. Often seen sitting on fences and telegraph posts or soaring high in the sky, where it shows a fan shaped tail and spread outer wing feathers. Will also hang in the wind on updrafts. Flies with quick, stiff wing beats. Buzzards have very variable plumages from very dark to very light. Much of the plumage is barred. Adults are brown on the upperparts, body and underwing coverts and show a broad black band on the end of the tail and wing feathers. The rest of the underwings are whitish and finely barred. Variation in adult plumage is displayed on both the upper and under sides and some birds can be extremely pale, especially in the tail and upperwing coverts. Juvenile birds are similar to adults and also display a range of light and dark plumage variation; juveniles lack black bands on the ends of their tails and wings and some paler birds show prominent dark markings on the underwing at the carpal (wing joint).


Very vocal for a raptor, especially in the spring. Has a loud mewing call which it uses mainly in flight.


Takes a wide variety of prey items including small mammals, birds, rabbits, insects, earthworms and amphibians.


Until quite recently breeding birds were to be found mainly in the north and east of country, north of a line from Sligo to Wexford. Now they are widespread. The stronghold of the species is in Co. Donegal, Co. Monaghan and Co. Louth. Birds nest in trees and sometimes on cliffs, usually with access to open land including farmland, moorland and wetland. The species was absent in Ireland from the late nineteenth century until 1933, when a pair bred in Antrim. The species has spread slowly down from the north through the twentieth century


Largely resident

Monitored by

Countryside Bird Survey

More Information

Read more in the Buzzard Species Focus from the 2011 Spring edition of our Wings magazine.

Blog posts about this bird


BirdWatch Ireland welcomes prosecution for possession of dead Buzzards

BirdWatch Ireland welcomes the three-month suspended prison sentence handed down to an individual for the possession of two dead Buzzards. In this case the Buzzards, which were shot using highly poisonous lead ammunition, were strung out onto posts on a farm, and displayed in a cruel and callous way. The dedicated work done by the National Parks and Wildlife Service rangers to secure the conviction was central to this result and we thank them. John Lusby, Raptor Conservation Officer at BirdWatch Ireland, said “This was a heinous wildlife crime where two beautiful Buzzards were shot and then hung out on posts wings outstretched. It is welcome to see the harder line being taken to address wildlife crime and we thank the Minister for Heritage, Malcolm Noonan, for giving it much needed focus. A clear strategy and sufficient resources for the new Wildlife Crime Unit and the ranger network to ensure that wildlife crime is stamped out and perpetrators are brought to justice is needed”. Notes: More information about Buzzards can be found here  

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