Oriental Honey-buzzard attacking wasp nest

on 12th November 2008

Michael Ho a.k.a. nemo photographed an Oriental Honey-buzzard (Pernis ptilorhyncus) raiding a wasp nest on October 2008.

The buzzard was flying around when it located a nest of the wasp, Vespa affinia, attached to what looks like a pine tree (Pinus sp.). It zoomed in and ripped the nest with its feet to get at the larvae. At the same time a piece of the nest dropped, exposing the wriggling larvae.

Oriental Honey Buzzard eats mainly the larvae of bees and wasps. Sometimes it also eats bits of comb and honey, and even a few adults. It may feed from the nest or the pieces that fall on to the ground. If the nest is in the ground, the bird may dig it out to get at the larvae.

A case was reported in Malaysia where a buzzard attacked a Vespa affinis nest, ripping it with its bill and not with its feet. The wasps immediately attacked the bird, swarming around its head. The bird continued to rip the nest for another 30 seconds, after which it fled, shaking the insects off in the process. It returned 10 minutes later to continue its attack. After two hours, the nest was totally destroyed.

Ferguson-Lees, J. & D. A. Christie, 2001. Raptors of the world. London: Christopher Helm. p. 345.

This post is a cooperative effort between and BESG to bring the study of bird behaviour through photography to a wider audience.

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

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