honey buzzard

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

honey buzzard

honey buzzard, common name for several medium-sized, buzzardlike hawks (genus Pernis) of Eurasia and Africa. The European honey buzzard, Pernis apivorus, is predominantly reddish brown, and its tail is marked by three lateral brown bands, though its color varies. As with many birds of prey, the female tends to be larger than the male, with a wingspan of up to 60 in. (152 cm). Honey buzzards have a pointed, decurved bill, and a unique (among birds of prey) patch between eyes and bill, which is covered with scalelike, rather than large, bristly feathers. They have powerful toes and strong claws.

Honey buzzards are found throughout the Old World, where they feed on a diet of bees, wasps, other insects, and honey and honeycomb, which the birds steal from hives. The entire breeding season, from nest building to independence of the young, takes as long as five months. For this reason, many breed only every second year. The female lays two white, brown-spotted eggs per clutch, which are incubated for a period of 30 days.

In winter, the European honey buzzard migrates to breeding grounds in Africa. The larger crested honey buzzard, P. ptilorhyncus, of Asia also migrates to southern regions in the winter; the barred honey buzzard, P. celebensis, is found in the tropical and subtropical forests of the Malay Archipelago. The honey buzzards, which are not closely related to the true buzzards of the genus Buteo (see hawk), are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Accipitriformes, family Accipitridae.

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