Pernis (bird)

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Pernis apivorus by John Gould improved.jpg
European honey buzzard, (Pernis apivorus)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Accipitriformes
Family: Accipitridae
Subfamily: Perninae
Genus: Pernis
Cuvier, 1816

P. apivorus
P. ptilorhynchus
P. celebensis
P. steerei

Pernis is a genus of birds in the raptor subfamily Perninae. The genus name is derived from Ancient Greek pernes περνης, a term used by Aristotle for a bird of prey.[1]

It consists of four medium-sized, broad-winged species.

They breed in temperate and warmer climates of the Old World, and are specialist feeders on wasp larvae. The two temperate species, the European and crested honey buzzards, are migratory.

They breed in woodland, and are often inconspicuous except when displaying.

The members of this genus have plumage which mimics that of juvenile common buzzards or of Spizaetus hawk-eagles. It has been suggested that the similarity has arisen as a partial protection against predation by larger raptors such as goshawks, which may be wary about attacking what appears to be a better-protected species with stronger bill and talons than the honey buzzards actually possess.

Species and subspecies[edit]

  • European honey buzzard, Pernis apivorus (also called Eurasian honey buzzard) – migratory: breeding Europe and western Asia, wintering Africa
  • Crested honey buzzard, Pernis ptilorhynchus (also called eastern or oriental honey-buzzard)
    • P. p. orientalis – migratory: north Asia in winter, India to Indonesia and Philippines in summer
    • P. p. ruficollis – India to Indo-China
    • P. p. torquatus – Indo-Malaya, Sumatra, Borneo
    • P. p. ptilorhynchus – Java
    • P. p. palawanensisPalawan
    • P. p. philippensis – Philippines
  • Barred honey buzzard, Pernis celebensis
    • P. c. celebensisSulawesi (formerly Celebes)
  • Philippine honey buzzard, Pernis steerei
    • P. s. winkleriLuzon island (in The Philippines)
    • P. s. steerei – southern Philippines

Comparing sequences from a short subsection of the mitochondrial cytb gene, Gamulf and Haring found five clades: apivorus, steerei–winkleri, celebensis, philippensis–orientalis–ruficollis, and torquatus–ptilorhynchus–palawanensis. They proposed splitting the steerei–winkleri group from P. celebensis into a new species Pernis steerei, but felt that splitting Pernis ptilorhynchus would be "premature" given the lack of morphological differences.[2]

Despite the name "crested honey buzzard", the subspecies P. p. orientalis, P. p. philippensis, and P. p. palawanensis all lack crests.[2]


  • British Birds, volume 99, March 2006
  • Ferguson-Lees, Christie, Franklin, Mead and Burton Raptors of the World ISBN 0-7136-8026-1
  • Gensbøl, Benny (1989). Collins guide to the Birds of Prey of Britain and Europe North Africa and the Middle East, William Collins Sons and Co Ltd. ISBN 0-00-219176-8


  1. ^ Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 51. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  2. ^ a b Gamauf, A.; Haring, E. (2004). "Molecular phylogeny and biogeography of Honey-buzzards (genera Pernis and Henicopernis)". Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research. 42 (2): 145–153. doi:10.1111/j.1439-0469.2004.00250.x. PDF