Honey buzzard

Honey buzzard

Honey buzzard ©Stefan Johansson

Honey buzzard

Scientific name: Pernis apivorus
Rare summer visitors, honey buzzards breed in open woodland where they feed on the nests and larvae of bees and wasps.

Species information


Length: 56cm
Wingspan: 142cm
Weight: 730g

Conservation status

Classified in the UK as Amber under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for Birds (2015). Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981.

When to see

May to September


The honey buzzard is a large bird of prey, similar in appearance to a common buzzard. It is only a summer resident in the UK, wintering in tropical Africa. There are very few breeding pairs in the country, all restricted to undisturbed woodland with open glades. Honey buzzards scan for bees and wasps, following individuals back to their nest where they use their strong, curved claws to break them open and eat the larvae.

How to identify

Honey buzzards resemble common buzzards, but with longer wings, a longer tail and a slim neck that's often held forward in a cuckoo-like manner. Plumage is highly variable, but adults are typically greyish-brown above with paler underparts.


They have a heavily restricted distribution in the UK, found in small numbers at a few sites in southern, eastern and northern England, as well as Scotland and Wales.

Did you know?

Honey buzzards have especially dense, scale-like feathers on their face to protect from stings whilst feeding on the nests of bees and wasps.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many woodland nature reserves for the benefit of the wildlife they support. You can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member; you'll find out about exciting wildlife news, events on your doorstep and volunteering opportunities, and will be helping local wildlife along the way.