Oriental Honey-buzzard attacking wasp nest

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 www.naturepixels.org and BESG to bring the study of bird behaviour through photography to a wider audience.

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