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Winners Photography Awards 2009

Oriental Honey Buzzard by Aditya Panda

This Oriental Honey Buzzard Pernis ptilorhynchos was caught in the act of raiding its favourite food source – a beehive. A bird of prey, the Honey Buzzard mainly sustains itself by consuming hymenopterans – bees, wasps, hornets and ants. The avian predator follows hapless insects to the nest, which it then proceeds to tear apart, using talons and beak to get to the larvae and pupae. Even adult insects are fair game. This specialised hunting technique is made possible thanks to a series of evolutionary adaptations including dense, scaleoid feathers on the face that protect the bird from stings. It also has comparatively shallow curved talons used for digging and walking, and its slit-like nostrils prevent the entry of tiny debris into its lungs as it tears through nest walls.
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