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Identifying Honey Buzzards?? (1 Viewer)

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Hi Andy,

Can you check the link address please - it doesn't work for me

Can vouch for Nick Rossiter though, the stuff on the website will be reliable.

Hi this is my first post & I could not get this to work either
Could have done with this info as looking for Honey Buzzard over at Harty Ferry Kent today
told by other birders it was around but did not see. SOB
nevermind saw Grey Plover and Bearded Tit today both firsts for me!!!
very happy!

no fooling you, is there!

But what is going on there?

If the page was dated April 1st, perhaps we could laugh it off. This person purports to be doing some 'serious' study of Honey Buzzards. This web page surely calls into question Mr. Rossiters identification skills. How many times has this person really seen Honeys? - if any?

Michael - have you any field experience with Nick?


Welcome to Bird Forums, Nick Rossiter!

I noticed that you had joined up just after midnight and that you were browsing the Birds of Prey forum around midnight-thirty.

If you need some pointers on the finer points of raptor identification I'm sure I can find someone to help you out!

Please come and introduce yourself on Bird Forums, we can be quite helpful.

I did enjoy reading your article questioning the origin of the influx of Honeys a couple of years ago, some parts of your paper were very well researched.


Thanks for the comments! The shots from Staufen are all of the same 1-2 birds. You're not seriously saying photo 1 with its kite-like jizz shows a juvenile Common Buzzard. The tail length is slightly greater than the wing width as well which is very bad for Common Buzzard. Three broad bars across the secondaries is also good for HB as is the small body in relation to the wing span. Forsman plate 34 is similar to this bird. I note you're selected one where an optical effect is indicating a light patch on the body.

While Forsman does cite moult as beginning in June, it looks as if it begins in some females when they arrive back on the breeding grounds in mid-May. Such birds moult 3-4 inner primaries through to the end of July, becoming full-winged in August in contrast of course to adult Common Buzzard. Moult periods are bound to vary.

Cheers ... Nick
Hello and welcome, Nick,

I didn't say any of the above but I do broadly agree with Logos. I do not see a Honey Buzzard in any of your photographs.

Potograph 1 Common Buzzard-like jizz - wings pressed forward. Tail shape and date would suggest juvenile Common Buzzard (they have obviously longer tails than adults). No moult showing.
It is, though the closest you have to a Honey.


Andy, I doubt your knowledge in this area.
Forsman p.32 says for HB "The silhouette recalls other buzzards, but the Honey Buzzard soars on wings pressed more forward".
If you're not aware of this your raptor id may be suspect.

Also note the small heads on some of the birds. If you think these are CBuzz well ....

While I accept that CBuzz juveniles have relatively longer tails than adults they are not often as long as the wing width.

The Finnish bird was identified by leading Finnish birders.

Cheers ... Nick
Nick, in my experience, Common Buzzard consistently soars with the wings, especially the hands pressed forward, whereas the Honey Buzzard tends to soar with the carpal joint pressed forward and only rarely and briefly with the hand further forward.

Finnish bird 1 looks mostly Common Buzzard.

Don't own Forsman.

P.M. me and I will refer you directly to birders I have spent time in the field with, both in the UK and Europe, you can ask them about my 'knowledge'.



re your Staufen 'pair of adults':

pic 1 - I don't see anything Kite-like about it, are the wings pressed forward or drooping? A likely Honey but definite?

pic 2 - I assume is of the same bird shows what appears to be a distinct pale breast band which would put it 90%+ Common!

pics 3,4,5,6,7 and 8 - ie the other bird of the 'pair' - pale breast band, fine even barring on the tail, obvious occipital ridge? Not Honey but Common! No sign of any rudder movement of the tail in this 'sequence', which is primarily the thing that would give a honey buzzard it's 'Kite-like jizz'.

Pic 3, Hexham, 12th of May, 2002 shows a Common Buzzard - short tail and 'no neck'.

Perth bird probably good for Honey.

Passage bird pretty inconclusive. Maybe neither!

My gut instinct for some of the other birds tells me that some of them are good Honeys but ???

Familiarity with the more common species is vital when you are confronted with a potential Honey. This way it is easy to dismiss non-Honeys quickly - eg:

wing shape and attitude,

depth, frequency and flexibility of wingbeats,

tail-side shape and movement of the tail,

'centre of gravity' and shape of body.

Plumage details are often confusing, given the great variety in both species and the need for a fairly close view.

Honeys often don't 'do' anything. You can watch one for maybe 5-10 minutes, gliding towards, past and away from you, over perhaps 3 or more miles in distance, and if you are lucky it will be close and low enough to get the clincher! If at the closest, it's over a thousand feet up and a mile away you have almost no chance unless it puts in a deep, flexible wingbeat or starts wingclapping. Don't blink!

If you are not 100% on any 'confusion' species eg:

Common Buzzard,

Goshawk (head/neck and tail lengths similar),

Marsh and melanistic Montagu's Harriers (plumage),

Lesser Spotted Eagle (head-on or gliding away - drooping wings).

- it is not wise to publish.



P.S. no books were used to reference my replies, just my experience and discussions in the field with other enthusiasts and specialists, to whom I owe most of my UK experience with Honeys. They know who they are - thanks, lads! Hope I got it right:)
Fascinating discussion. I have dipped twice on HB - North Norfolk and nearer home in Nottinghamshire.

To be frank, we saw two Buzzards at the Notts site but I could not confidently say they were Honey's.

It is discussions like this that provide an insight for us birders much lower down the learning curve with the indepth knowledge and clues we need to understand how experienced birders separate such 'difficult' species.

Pease keep it up
Cheers Doug,

First Honey I saw in the UK took me three days of research and memory trawling before I was sure!

Haldon, Devon: parked up, got out of car, looked up - speck with the naked eye! Lifted up trusty 7x50's, buzzardy job too far up to get plumage or accurate shape - drifting slowly away. Stayed on it for 3-5 minutes probably now close to 2 miles away, maybe losing altitude, then it flapped once - big curvy-winged flap where the wingtips came close to touching underneath the body.

That trip had been planned late the previous year, so I had plenty of time to gen up but I hadn't realised how flexible the wing action was!

If it hadn't flapped.........


I see Common Buzzards every day and over 20 years I've seen lots of Honeys throughout Europe, including plenty this spring in Estonia.
Satrow is of course absolutely spot on. The Perth birds look pretty good, one or two of the others may be indeterminate but almost all are Common Buzzards without any shadow of a doubt.
I would suggest that Nick needs to concentrate more on field experience and less on text-books.
It's perhaps rather risky to offer definitive IDs on flight still images of this nature though I must admit to having nagging doubts about some of the images on Nick's site. I see common Buzzards every day ( a pair nest behind my garden!) & in the general area where I live there has been a massive increase in the local Common Buzzard population. I continue to be surprised at how variable they are.
I'll attach a series of Honey/Common Buzzard images; perhaps some folk have what it takes to make the correct diagnoses. At the risk of losing street-cred.(not that I ever had any!) I would have to say that I would have got about half of these wrong. Number the images as 1,2 & 3(the large one) along the top row, 4,5,6 along the middle row & 7,8 along the bottom row.

Good luck.


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