Oriental honey Buzzard
Coimbatore, TamilNadu, India
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 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, 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.
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.