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The common buzzard is a medium-sized raptor that is highly variable in plumage. Most buzzards are distinctly round headed with a somewhat slender bill, relatively long wings that either reach or fall slightly short of the tail tip when perched, a fairly short tail, and somewhat short and mainly bare tarsi.
The common buzzard generally inhabits the interface of woodlands and open grounds; most typically the species lives in forest edge, small woods or shelterbelts with adjacent grassland, arables or other farmland. It acquits to open moorland as long as there is some trees for perch hunting and nesting use. The woods they inhabit may be coniferous, temperate broadleaf and mixed forests and temperate deciduous forest with occasional preferences for the local dominant tree. It is absent from treeless tundra, as well as the Subarctic where the species almost entirely gives way to the rough-legged buzzard.