Crested honey buzzard
|Crested honey buzzard|
The crested honey buzzard (Pernis ptilorhynchus) is a bird of prey in the family Accipitridae, which also includes many other diurnal raptors such as kites, eagles, and harriers. This species is also known as the Oriental honey buzzard.
Despite its name, this species is not related to Buteo buzzards, and is taxonomically closer to the kites. It appears long-necked with a small head (resembling that of a pigeon), and soars on flat wings. The head lacks a strong superciliary ridge, giving it a facial appearance very unlike a raptor. It has a long tail and a short head crest. It is brown above, but not as dark as the European honey buzzard, and paler below. A dark throat stripe is present. Unusually for a large bird of prey, the sexes can be distinguished. The male has a blue-grey head with brown iris, while the female's head is brown and the iris is yellow. She is slightly larger and darker than the male. The male has two black bands in the tail and three black underwing bands, while the female has three black tail bands and four narrower black underwing bands. The colouration and the tail pattern are highly variable.
It breeds in Asia from central Siberia east to Japan. It is a summer migrant to Siberia, wintering in tropical Southeast Asia. Elsewhere, it is more-or-less resident. It is a specialist feeder, living mainly on the larvae of social bees and wasps, and eating bits of comb and honey; it takes other small insect prey such as cicadas.
The crested honey buzzard breeds in woodland, and is inconspicuous except in the spring, when the mating display includes wing-clapping. The display of roller-coasting in flight and fluttering wings at the peak of the ascent are characteristic of the genus Pernis.
The similarity in plumage between juvenile crested honey buzzards and the Nisaetus hawk-eagles may have arisen as a partial protection against predation by larger raptors. The eagles have stronger bills and talons, and are likely to be less vulnerable than the Pernis species. Similar mimicry is shown by the juveniles of the European honey buzzard, which resembles the common buzzard. Although the northern goshawk is capable of killing both species, it is likely to be more cautious about attacking the better protected Buteo species.
Distribution and habitat
Crested buzzards that migrate from breeding areas in Japan to wintering areas in Southeast Asia fly over the East China Sea. This 700-km nonstop flight over water is possible because during autumn, winds over the sea blow in the same direction as the birds' direction of flight (i.e. wind support). As climate change affects wind conditions worldwide, the wind support over the East China Sea could be reduced.
Pernis ptilorhynchus includes the following subspecies:
- P. p. orientalis - Taczanowski, 1891
- P. p. ruficollis - Lesson, R, 1830
- P. p. torquatus - Lesson, R, 1830
- P. p. ptilorhynchus - (Temminck, 1821)
- P. p. palawanensis - Stresemann, 1940
- P. p. philippensis - Mayr, 1939
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