Members of the genus Pernis are rather large kites – normally called Honey-Buzzards. They have long, broad buteonine wings and tails. The legs are short, but stout; with stout toes and talons. The lores are densely feathered with short imbricated feathers an adaptation to ward off wasps and bees whose larvae form an important part of their diet. The feathers of entire head are somewhat stiffened; with or without a projecting crest on nape. The tail is boldly barred. Their general colour is highly variable with dark phases in some forms. The young are usually more heavily streaked than are the adults. This distinct genus is associated with Henicopernis (Long-tailed and Black Honey-Buzzards), Aviceda (Cuckoo Falcons and Bazas) and Leptodon (Grey-headed Kite). It is found in Europe, through to Asia and the Pacific Rim; the more northerly forms being highly migratory. There are two major species – Pernis apivorus which, with its subspecies, covers most of the genus’ range, and Pernis celebensis which is specific to part of the Pacific rim.
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.
Listen to the sound of European Honey Buzzard
[audio:http://www.planetofbirds.com/MASTER/ACCIPITRIFORMES/Accipitridae/sounds/European Honey Buzzard.mp3]
Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto
|wingspan min.:||113||cm||wingspan 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.:||35||days|
Video European Honey Buzzard
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
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.