European Honey Buzzard

European Honey Buzzard / Pernis apivorus / صقر العسل (حوام النحل)

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Status: Abundant

The European Honey Buzzard belongs to  the Accipitridae family in the Accipitriforme order. It is 52-59 cm in size, 510-1,050 grams in weight and with a wind span of 113-135 cm. A medium sized raptor with several morphs. The head and neck are narrow and pointed, the wings are wide and rounded. The tail is a bit longer than the width of the wing, rounded and with three dark bars, two close to the tail base and a wider terminal bar. As seen in flight, the silhouette of a narrow, long-necked, prominent pigeon-like head, a long tail and rounded wings with a narrow connection to the body distinguish this bird from others. It soars with straight wings but glides with wings slightly lowered, especially at the tips. The color of the underparts can range from pure white with some streaking on the chest, to sandy or rust color, thru to chocolate brown for the dark morph. Males usually have a bluish-gray head and a brownish-gray back while Females have a darker colored head and underparts and more bars on the tail and flight feathers. The yellow eye aids in identification when perched. Juveniles are usually darker and streaked with darker eyes the color of red wine. The Honey Buzzard is similar to the Common and the Steppe Buzzards; however they are of a more compact build: a shorter neck, wider head, a short squared off tail, and shorter wings that are pointier. While soaring, their wings are raised and they glide with wings bent forward. The Honey Buzzard can be found in open woodlands, and pastures. Their main food is bee and wasp larvae, but they eat also reptiles, amphibians and small mammals. The Honey Buzzard is well adapted to attacking the hives with short stiff scale-like feathers that cover the forehead and cheeks as protection from stinging. The strong short legs are structured for digging and breaking up hives. The Honey Buzzard breeds in most of Europe and further east to the high plateaus of central Asia. The nests are built in tall trees. Aside from the breeding areas, the Honey Buzzard is known to winter south of the Sahara Desert. A population of one half to one million birds has been counted during migration. Although the population appears to be stable it is threatened by illegal hunting in southern Europe and the Middle East as well as by destruction of natural habitat.

International conservation status: LC

Migratory behaviour: Migration- September, May

Sites: Beitillu, Umm at-Tut, Wadi Al-Quff nature reserves