Family Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)

Least Concern

European Honey-buzzard (Pernis apivorus)


French: Bondrée apivore German: Wespenbussard Spanish: Abejero europeo
Other common names: Western Honey-buzzard

Falco apivorus


, 1758,



Closely related to P. ptilorhynchus, with which sometimes considered conspecific; small overlap in ranges, and occasional hybrids reported#R, but molecular data indicate that the species represent two well-defined monophyletic groups#R. Monotypic.


Europe and W Asia, from Spain, France, Britain (including Wales and Scotland)#R, and E Scandinavia E through W Russia and Caucasus to R Ob in SW Siberia, and S to S Turkey#R and N Iran#R. Winters mostly in Africa S of Sahara, with occasional records at this season from S Europe (e.g. Italy) and Arabia#R.

Descriptive notes

52–60 cm; male 440–943 g, female 360–1050 g; wingspan 118–150 cm. Polymorphic, with extremely variable coloration (as many as ten adult and seven... read more


Variable, mournful whistling that is quite different from Buteo spp., mono-, bi- and... read more


Forests and woods, preferably deciduous, also mixed forests (but in some parts of range, e.g.... read more

Food and feeding

Mainly wasps and hornets (Hymenoptera), feeding on larvae, pupae and adults (six species identified as prey in UK, of which three were... read more


Laying Jun–Jul (though overall season mid May–late Sept). Solitary. Distinctive sky-dancing display flight, given in full only... read more


Migratory, wintering mainly in equatorial Africa, where reported as late as 16 May in Central... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Population apparently stable, although some regional fluctuations. World population very high, presumably at least in... read more

Recommended citation

Orta, J., Kirwan, G.M. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2020). European Honey-buzzard (Pernis apivorus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 24 February 2020).