Grey-Faced Buzzard: The Ultimate Guide

If you’ve ever been interested in birds of prey, then we would suggest that you take a moment to contemplate the amazing grey-faced buzzard.

This creature is frankly incredible, with a large grey head – as is its namesake – black breast and brown back and upper wings. You certainly won’t mistake this one in the wild.

This creature can be found in Asia, China, Korea, and Japan. It will often hunt small mammals and reptiles and can be found nesting in the dense jungles of these countries.

This buzzard is very pretty looking, with plenty of brown streaks on its belly, with a white stripe under its neck and on its wingtips.

But where can you find this bird out in the wild? What habits does it have when it comes to eating and breeding? What calls does it have to lure in a mate or alert its chicks to food? Where does it like to build its nests? What predators do these animals have? What prey do they eat?

Well, if you want answers to all of these questions and more, then we would recommend that you keep reading this article. This animal is one of the most magnificent in nature, with wonderful patterns of eating, sleeping, mating, breeding and migrating.


This takes its distinctive name from its grey head, which is a distinctive feature of both the male and the female. This comes with a brown head and back, with dark wings that have darker brown stripes across the back.

This dark raptor is around 41 – 46 cm in length, with the female being slightly larger than the male.

The wings on this creature are very dark and pointy, seeming almost transparent when they are flying through the light summer air. The tail of this bird is ash-colored, tapering into the pine brown of its body.

The iris in this creature’s eye is a bright yellow color.

Juveniles of this animal are often less red than the adults themselves, although they still have dark bars on their belly. The face and eye color of this animal is dark, although when they are younger they tend to be a lot lighter.

Male Vs Female

Like most of this kind of bird, the female of the species is slightly larger than the male. This is because the female does a lot of the catching prey for the chicks as well as giving birth to the chicks in the first place.

When it comes to males and females, there isn’t much difference in terms of their appearance. However, the females can be slightly darker in color, with different patterning on the belly.

Are They Aggressive?

These birds are traditionally not that aggressive with humans, although they have been known to attack dogs and other birds when they get too near their nests.

There have been very instances where the bird will get that close to humans as if they feel threatened they tend to run in the opposite direction.

What Adaptations Do They Have?

These creatures have developed a brown plumage so that they can blend in better with the surrounding trees, making them much better hunters.

This creature also has hooked shaped talons and beaks, which will allow them to more effectively tear into their prey, stripping the flesh from the bone and breaking the spine.

Like a lot of these birds, the grey-faced buzzard has a larger wingspan that will allow it to be able to float on the surface of air currents and scan the ground below for prey.

This feature will also allow them to remain incognito when they are looking for prey, their white bellies looking almost invisible against the clear sky.

Breeding/reproduction Behaviour

During the breeding season, these animals will set up a nest in a Japanese tree, which is high enough above the ground to give them a good vantage point over predators as well as allowing them to find prey much easier. Often these nests will be made from twigs and larger sticks.

If you are looking for this bird in China, you’ll also be able to spot its nests on steep slopes and vertical drops. Again, this gives the chicks protection and a healthy vantage point for finding prey.

The nest is usually lined with grass, which helps stop the chicks from falling out.

The females will usually incubate the chicks, hatching them in the late May period. These fledgling chicks will usually leave the nest after 35 days of being hatched. They will become independent roughly two weeks after being born.

Their Calls/Sounds

This bird usually has a high-pitched chirping sound. The male will use this to alert the female to his location, especially during the mating season. The female will also scream if she thinks that there are any predators near the nest.

After the chicks are born, they will take to emitting a loud call consistently to alert their parents to food in the area. The bird calls will deepen and grow less as the birds get older and go around trying to find their own food.

What Do They Eat? (Diet)

When the breeding season is in full swing, these birds will often spend around 90% of their day perching and looking for food. Their hunting perches are usually found roughly 500 meters away from where they have laid their eggs.

These animals have a very rich and varied diet, usually consisting of amphibians, crabs, lizards, small birds and insects. They can often be seen perching on a pole near a rice paddy and will swoop in to grab frogs that are swimming in the water.

Where Do They Live? (Habitat)

Grey-Faced Buzzard

These creatures can mainly be found in Japan, specifically in the area of Satoyama. You can mainly find these birds nesting near streams, rice paddies, meadows, marshes and agricultural land.

What Are Their Nesting Habits?

These birds will often build large nests in the trees out of sticks, lining the gaps with grass. These nests need to be large enough to house the chicks and the parents, as well as any large kill that they might have dragged to the nest.

How long Do They Live? (Lifespan)

These animals tend to live around 12 years in the wild. In captivity, there have been some cases of grey-faced buzzards living to the age of 20.

What Predators Do They Have?

These birds have no natural predators, although sometimes they have been known to get mauled by wild dogs while they are on the ground. This bird’s biggest predator is probably human.

What Are Their Feathers Like?

These birds have very dark brown feathers that usually spread around the whole body. The feathers on the wings are narrow and pointed, which helps with it being aerodynamic. The feathers on the stomach are a lot softer and will often help the chick learn to fly.

Sometimes the feathers on this creature will get ripped off in an attack, however, they will often grow back very quickly. The brown color of its feathers helps this creature blend in with the foliage, which is what makes it such a deadly hunter.

What Does Their Poop Look Like?

This bird has long and white poop that is very stringy and will certainly be very easy to identify if you are even out in the woods trying to track this creature.

The diet is the main cause of this animal’s poop color, so if you are trying to identify what your creature has eaten that day, then try checking the poop first and foremost!

Do They Migrate?

These birds do tend to migrate during the winter months, often going to areas where it is a lot warmer. This bird will utilize the oceanic flyway to get to the Japanese breeding grounds during June.

After they have built nests and copulated, they will usually fly south around September or mid-October.

Conservation Status

This animal was classed as being a vulnerable species during 2006, although very little can be done to protect their habitats, as 75% of it is owned privately. One of the biggest causes of this species decline is human encroachment onto their environment.

This has been slightly helped by the fact that raptor skins were outlawed in Japan and neighboring Taiwan.

Fun Facts

These birds are often found hunting in rice paddies, they often use telephone poles as a vantage point for hunting.

You can tell the difference between migrating buzzards and crows by their flight pattern. Buzzards will usually have a shallower flight pattern than crows.

The stripes on this bird’s wing can often not be seen when they are flying high in the sky.