European Honey Buzzard (Pernis apivorus)

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The European Honey Buzzard (Pernis apivorus), also known as the Pern or Common Pern, is a bird of prey in the family Accipitridae.

The European Honey Buzzard is a summer migrant to most of Europe and western Asia, wintering in tropical Africa. It is seen in a wide range of habitats, but generally prefers woodland and exotic plantations.

The 52–60-centimetre-long (20–24 in) Honey Buzzard is larger and longer winged, with a 135–150-centimetre (53–59 in) wingspan, when compared to the smaller Common Buzzard Buteo buteo. It appears longer necked with a small head, and soars on flat wings. It has a longer tail, which has fewer bars than the Buteo buzzard, usually with two narrow dark bars and a broad dark sub-terminal bar. The sexes can be distinguished on plumage, which is unusual for a large bird of prey. The male has a blue-grey head, while the female’s head is brown. The female is slightly larger and darker than the male.

The soaring jizz is quite diagnostic; the wings are held straight with the wing tips horizontal or sometimes slightly pointed down. The head protrudes forwards with a slight kink downwards and sometimes a very angular chest can be seen, similar to a Sparrowhawk, although this may not be diagnostic. The angular chest is most pronounced when seen in direct flight with tail narrowed. The call is a clear peee-lu.

It has been suggested that the similarity in plumage between juvenile European Honey Buzzard and Common Buzzard has arisen as a partial protection against predation by Northern Goshawks. Although that formidable predator is capable of killing both species, it is likely to be more cautious about attacking the better protected Buteo species, with its stronger bill and talons. Similar Batesian mimicry is shown by the Asian Pernis species, which resemble the Spizaetus hawk-eagles.

photo: Mihai BACIU


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