The main food both in summer and winter quarters is nests, larvae, pupae and adults of social Hymenoptera, including wasps, bees, bumble bees and hornets.
Over the months
Food is located by following flying insects to the nest and, once located, the bird will start to dig the nest out with its feet. The bird can dig as deep as 40cm, and consumes adult insects, larvae, pupae and parts of the nest itself as it excavates. It also hunts on foot to catch ground insects and small vertebrates.
In the spring when the main prey is scarce, honey buzzards will resort to a variety of other food, including other insects, amphibians, reptiles, small mammals, nestlings and eggs of birds, worms, fruit and berries.
The birds have physical adaptations relating to their unusual diet. These include small, dense, scale-like feathers on the front of the face to reduce the possibility of stings, powerful feet with thick scales and slightly curved claws of almost equal size for digging and walking, and slit-like nostrils to reduce soil blockage while digging.