The honey buzzard is a summer visitor to Scotland migrating from Africa for breeding season. They are birds of prey with a very private nature. It is difficult to distinguish a honey buzzard from a common buzzard. The honey buzzard’s plumage varies across age and gender but they typically have grey or brown feathers on the upper body and lighter white or cream feathers on the underside of the body. Honey buzzards have thin necks and relatively long wings and tails. Their beaks tend to be short and chunky with a hooked tip. They also have long claws which have adapted to dig for prey.
The honey buzzard is often one of the last species to return to the UK during spring, often flying over Gibraltar and the Bosporus Straits. Once they have arrived, the honey buzzard will feed from the nests of bees and wasps, which is where the species gets its name from. Honey buzzards locate wasp nests on the ground and dig them up using their sharp beaks. In times of scarcity the species have been known to feed on other invertebrates and small vertebrates.
During their migratory passage, honey buzzards can be seen anywhere but during the breeding season the species prefers dense woodland. The private nature of these birds means they can be present in these habitats, but their presence could go undetected.
- Length: 56-60cm
- Wingspan: 142cm
- Weight 730g (both males and females)
The honey buzzard is on the amber list of conservation concern.
Honey buzzards can be seen passing over coastal areas on their way to spend their summers in the wooded Highlands of Scotland.
When to see
May – September
- Honey buzzards are protected from wasp and bee stings by the dense feathers around their face
- Honey buzzards are thought to have a similar appearance to the common buzzard as a form of protection, as the common buzzard is generally stronger and has a tougher beak