Animal Species:Black-breasted Buzzard

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

Black-breasted Buzzard

Black-breasted Buzzard
Photographer: Jack Purnell © Australian Museum

Standard Common Name

Black-breasted Buzzard


 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.

Size range

50 cm to 60 cm

Similar Species

Wedge-tailed Eagle,Little Eagle,Black Kite


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 mainland.


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.


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.

Feeding and Diet

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.


Generally silent, but vocal near the nest, with yelps and soft piping.

Mating and reproduction

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.

  • Breeding season: August to September in south and centre; May to July in north
  • Clutch size: Two
  • Incubation: 40 days
  • Time in nest: 60 days

Conservation Status

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.



What does this mean?


  • Hollands, D. 1984. Eagles, Hawks and Falcons of Australia. Nelson, Melbourne.
  • Marchant, S. and Higgins, P.J. (eds) 1993. Handbook of Australian New Zealand And Antartic Birds Vol. 2: (Raptors To Lapwings). Oxford University Press, Melbourne.
  • Olsen, P. 1995. Australian Birds of Prey: the Biology and Conservation of Raptors. University of New South Wales Press, Sydney.
  • Olsen, P., Crome, F. and Olsen, J. 1993. The Birds of Prey and Ground Birds of Australia. Angus and Robertson, and the National Photographic Index of Australian Wildlife, Sydney.
  • Beruldsen, G 2003. Australian Birds: Their Nests and Eggs. Self-published, Queensland.

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Tags BIBY, bird, birds, black breasted buzzard, raptors, birds of prey,