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Crested Honey Buzzard
800px-Oriental Honey-buzzard Pernis ptilorhyncus
Male
Information
Common Name Oriental Honey Buzzard
Range Asia from central Siberia east to Japan.
Scientific Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Aves
Order Accipitriformes
Family Accipitridae
Genus Pernis
Species Pernis ptilorhyncus
Conservation Status
LCSpecies
Least Concern

The Crested honey buzzard (Pernis ptilorhyncus), also known as the Oriental honey buzzard, is a species of bird of prey in the Accipitridae family.

Description

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 supraciliary ridge giving it a very un-raptor-like facial appearance. It has a long tail and a short head crest. It is brown above, but not as dark as honey buzzard, and paler below. There is a dark throat stripe. Unusually for a large bird of prey, the sexes can be distinguished. The male has a blue-grey head, while the female's head is brown. She is slightly larger and darker than the male. The male has a black tail with a white band, whilst the female resembles female honey buzzard.

It breeds in Asia from central Siberia east to Japan. It is a summer migrant to Siberia, wintering in tropical south east Asia. Elsewhere it is more-or-less resident. It is a specialist feeder, living mainly on the larvae of social bees and wasps, also eating bits of comb and honey; it will take other small insect prey such as cicadas.

Mimicry

It has been suggested that the similarity in plumage between juvenile crested honey buzzard and the Spizaetus hawk-eagles has 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.

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