honey-buzzard

honey-buzzard, common name for a medium-sized, buzzardlike hawk, Pernis apivorus. The color of its plumage varies, but is predominantly reddish brown, and its tail is marked by three lateral brown bands. 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). The honey-buzzard has 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. It has powerful toes and strong claws. Honey-buzzards are found throughout the Old World, where they feed on a diet of bees, wasps, and honey, which the birds steal from the hives of the insects. In winter, the European and northern Asian members of this species migrate to breeding grounds in Africa and India. 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. Honey-buzzards are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Falconiformes, family Accipitridae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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