Honey buzzards are similar in appearance to common buzzards but are distinguished by a dark, double bar near the base of the tail. They also have longer, narrower wings than the common buzzard and a longer neck, accentuating a pigeon-like head.
On the forehead and lores it has small, dense scale-like feathers to reduce the possibility of stings. Its nostrils are reduced to slits which are less likely to be blocked with soil and wax whilst digging. The head is small, which is more convenient for foraging in small spaces for nests and as a result the eyes are smaller – it does not need the visual acuity of a hunter. The beak is slender, the upper mandible slightly curved and terminating in a long point, which is well suited to holding insect prey.
European Honey Buzzard breeds in woodlands where it can find its preferred food. Forests may are deciduous or conifers woodlands, with clearings, meadows and thickets.
Pernis apivorus is a widespread summer visitor to Europe, which constitutes >75% of
its global breeding range. Its European breeding population is large (>110,000 pairs),
and was stable between 1970-1990. Although there were declines in countries such
as Finland and Sweden during 1990-2000, key populations in Russia, Belarus and
France were stable, and the species remained stable overall.
This bird inhabits forests of a large part of Europe and western temperate Asia. It winters in Sub-Saharan Africa. The population of the European Union amounts to about 20000 breeding pairs and the total European population 130000 pairs. In some regions this species has declined, but elsewhere it has extended its distribution following the expansion of forest plantations. Globally its populations seem fairly stable
Despite what its name may suggest, the Honey Buzzard, does not eat honey. The diet of this bird is mainly wasps and secondly bumblebees. At the start of the breeding season they also take small birds, small mammals and earthworms to supplement their diet, and to ensure an adequate supply of food for a growing brood.
This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 10,000,000 km². It has a large global population estimated to be 100,000-1,000,000 individuals (Ferguson-Lees et al. 2001). Global population trends have not been quantified, but populations appear to be stable (Ferguson-Lees et al. 2001) so the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from birdlife.org]
They build relatively small nests, often on the foundation of crow’s nests. They lay 3-5 eggs in June-July, which are incubated by both parents for 30-35 days. Both parents feed the chicks, which fledge the nest after 40-44 days.
Migratory; almost entirely a summer visitor to Europe. Winters mainly wooded country in west and central regions of equatorial Africa, from Guinea and Liberia east to Central African Republic and Zaire; also in much smaller numbers in eastern and southern Africa as far as Natal and Angola. Departures from breeding grounds mainly mid-August to early September, with adults generally leaving by end August. Most gone from central Europe by late September to early October, though a few (probably juveniles) linger into late October or even November. Begins returning to central Europe from mid-April, though majority return in second half May, or late May to early June in north Europe.
Although relying mainly on soaring flight on migration, capable of sustained flapping flight over large water crossings; thus less restricted to narrow sea-crossings than other large raptors. Nevertheless, heavy concentrations occur at such points. Ringing recoveries indicate west European populations from as far east as Sweden and central Europe use Straits of Gibraltar route, where main autumn passage late August to mid-September; in spring, majority cross Straits late April to late May. Considerable numbers also cross central Mediterranean via Sicilian Channel; large numbers reported Malta, Sicily, and especially Cap Bon (Tunisia). Some east European populations concentrate on passage over Bosporus and Sea of Marmara; main movement mid-August to mid-September; limited spring observations indicate main passage in May. Migrants from western FSU not using Bosporus route pass around eastern end of Black Sea. Great majority passing through Middle East believed to enter or leave Africa via Sinai and Gulf of Suez. Abundant at Eilat (southern Israel) in spring; few in autumn.
- spanwidth min.: 113 cm
- spanwidth max.: 135 cm
- size min.: 52 cm
- size max.: 59 cm
- incubation min.: 30 days
- incubation max.: 35 days
- fledging min.: 33 days
- fledging max.: 45 days
- broods 1
- eggs min.: 1
- eggs max.: 3
- Conservation Status