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Pacific Baza
Aviceda subcristata

Status: Lower risk

Population Trend: Unknown.

Other Names: Crested Baza, Crested Hawk, Crested Lizard-hawk, Lizard Hawk, Pacific Cuckoo-falcon, Pacific Lizard-hawk.

Aviceda subcristata
click to enlarge
Distribution: Australasian/Indomalayan. LESSER SUNDA ISLANDS, MOLUCCA ISLANDS eastward through the SOLOMON ISLANDS, PAPUAN ISLANDS, and NEW GUINEA, and south to northern and eastern AUSTRALIA. more....

Subspecies: 16 races. A. s. bismarckii: BISMARCK ARCHIPELAGO (New Britain, New Ireland, New Hanover); A. s. coultasi: ADMIRALTY ISLAND (Manus); A.s. gurneyi: Southeast SOLOMON ISLANDS; A. s. megala: D'Entrecasteaux Archipelago (Fergusson and Goodenough Islands), Japen Island, and eastern NEW GUINEA; A.s. njikena Northwestern Australia; A. s. obscura: NEW GUINEA (Biak Island); A. s. pallida: Kai Islands, off western NEW GUINEA; A.s. proxima: Northwest SOLOMON ISLANDS (Bougainville, Shortland); A. s. reinwardtii: Central MOLUCCAS (Ambon, Haruku, Ceram); A.s. robusta: Central SOLOMON ISLANDS (Choiseul, Santa Isabel); A. s. rufa: Northern MOLUCCAS (Obi and other northern islands); A. s. stenozona: Western NEW GUINEA, Western Papuan Islands (Misol, Salawati), and Aru Islands; A. s. stresemanni: MOLUCCAS (Buru Island); A. s. subcristata: Coastal northeastern AUSTRALIA; A. s. timorlaoensis: LESSER SUNDAS and islands off SULAWESI; A. s. waigeuensis: Waigeo Island, off western NEW GUINEA. more....

Taxonomy: Forms a superspecies with A. cuculoides, A. jerdoni, and A. madagascariensis (Sibley and Monroe 1990, Mayr and Diamond 2001), and they are sometimes regarded as conspecific. Debus (1998) suggested that this species most closely resembles the African Cuckoo-hawk (A. cuculoides). The species of Aviceda were originally thought to be related to falcons because of their notched bill, but they are probably most closely related to kites. Wink and Sauer-Gürth (2004) found that they constitute an independent lineage clustering near the base of the Accipitridae in the Gypaetus/Neophron assemblage, based on nucleotide sequences of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene.

Movements: Partial migrant and also an altitudinal migrant in some areas (Bildstein 2006). Adults are sedentary, according to Baker-Gabb and Fitzherebert (1989), but juveniles form post-breeding flocks. Birds in southeastern Australia migrate either to the lowlands or northward for the winter before returning in spring (Kaveney 1977, Czechura 1985).

Habitat and Habits: Found at primary forest edges, in clearings, second-growth, and in scrub habitats in lowlands and foothills (Schodde 1968, Coates and Peckover 2001). In Australia, it occurs in tropical and warm temperate forests and woodlands near water (Olsen 1995), in wooded urban habitats (Debus 1998), and suburban gardens in winter (Olsen et al. 1993). Coates (1985) and Coates and Bishop (1997) noted that it perches conspicuously in trees with little or no foliage, often soaring above the canopy, and is less crepuscular and much more conspicuous than other members of the genus. Usually occurs singly, in pairs, or in family groups, rarely to 20 birds (Beehler et al. 1986, Coates and Bishop 1997), but in Australia it forms flocks in September and October on its way from wintering to breeding areas (Olsen 1995).

Food and Feeding Behavior: Omnivorous, feeding mainly on foliage insects (grasshoppers, stick insects), caterpillars, and tree-frogs, but also on snakes, lizards, small nestlings and birds, and small fruits (e.g., figs), which are often snatched from foliage (Coates 1985, Coates and Bishop 1997, Debus 1998). Flies quietly from tree to tree high in the canopy or plunges into foliage after insects (Olsen 1995), or captures them in the air (Coates 1985). more....

Breeding: Breeds solitarily, building a small platform nest of live and dead twigs, lined with green leaves, and placed from 6-35 m above the ground in a well concealed location in a tree canopy (Debus 1998). However, nests may be in trees near human habitations or roads (Olsen et al. 1993). One on New Britain was in a tall coconut palm (Coates 1985). The clutch size is usually 2 or 3 eggs, occasionally 4, the incubation period is 29 days, and the nestling period is 32-35 days (Debus op cit.). Both parents share incubation, brooding, and feeding the chicks, but when the chicks are small, one of the adults stays at the nest while the other hunts (Olsen et al. 1993). more....

Conservation: Common and widespread on the islands of the Papuan region and Bismarcks, although less common at the extremities of its range in Australia (Debus 1998). It probably benefits from fragmentation of continuous forest, since it prefers edge habitats, if not extensively cleared areas (Debus op cit.). It may be affected by lead in heavily urbanized areas, but eggshell thickness was not affected during the period of DDT use in Australia (Debus op cit.). McAllan et al. (2007) suggested that this species might be expanding its range southward in Australia as a consequence of global climate change. Categorized globally as a species of "Least Concern" by BirdLife International (2007). more....

Important References: 
Coates, B.J. 1985. The birds of Papua New Guinea, including the Bismarck
  Archipelago and Bougainville. Vol. I. Non-passerines. Dove Publications,
  Alderley, Queensland, Australia.
Coates, B.J., and W.S. Peckover. 2001. Birds of New Guinea and the
  Bismarck Archipelago: a photographic guide. Dove Publications, Alderley,
  Queensland, Australia.
Debus, S.J.S. 1994. Pacific Baza. Pp. 107-108 in del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott,
  and J. Sargatal (eds.), Handbook of birds of the world. Vol. 2. New World
  vultures to guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.
Debus, S. 1998. The birds of prey of Australia: a field guide. Oxford
  University Press, Melbourne.
Ferguson-Lees, J., and D.A. Christie. 2001. Raptors of the world. Houghton
  Mifflin, Boston, MA.
Hadden, D. 2004. Birds and bird lore of Bougainville and the North
  Solomons. Dove Publications, Alderley, Queensland, Australia.
Marchant, S., and P. Higgins (eds.). Handbook of Australian, New Zealand,
  and Antarctic birds. Vol. 2. Raptors to lapwings. Oxford University Press,
  Melbourne, Australia.
Olsen, P. 1995. Australian birds of prey. John Hopkins University Press,
  Baltimore, MD.
Olsen, P., F. Crome, and J. Olsen. 1993. Birds of prey & ground birds of
  Australia. The National Photographic Index of Australian Wildlife. Angus &
  Robertson, Sydney, Australia.
Stresemann, E. 1913. [Ornithological miscellany from the Indo-Australian
  region]. Novitates Zoologicae 20:289-324. (In German)
van Balen, B.S. 1998. Tropical forest raptors in Indonesia: recent
  information on distribution, status, and conservation. Journal of Raptor
  Research 32:56-63.

Sites of Interest:
Pacific Baza photos.

Last modified: 6/13/2010

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2020. Species account: Pacific Baza Aviceda subcristata. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 27 Feb. 2020

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