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Crested Honey Buzzard
Pernis ptilorhyncus

Status: Lower risk

Population Trend: Unknown.

Other Names: Asiatic Honey-buzzard, Common Honey-buzzard, Crested Honey-buzzard, Eastern Honey Buzzard, Eastern Honey-buzzard, Honey Kite, Oriental Honey-buzzard, Oriental Honey Buzzard, Pernis ptilorhynchus.

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Pernis ptilorhyncus
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Distribution: Indomalayan/Palearctic. Breeds in two probably discrete populations, one from southern (temperate-zone) SIBERIA and northeastern CHINA south to Baikal, Amurland, Sakhalin, northern JAPAN and the Yellow Sea, and the other on the Indian subcontinent (INDIA, SRI LANKA) and southern CHINA south through the Malay Peninsula, PHILIPPINES, SUMATRA, JAVA, and BORNEO; northern breeding populations winter in INDIA, southern CHINA, southern JAPAN, MYANMAR, Malay Peninsula, INDONESIA, and the PHILIPPINES south to SULAWESI; smaller numbers migrate through the Middle East and probably winter in northern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. more....

Subspecies: 6 races. P. p. orientalis: Southern SIBERIA south to northeastern CHINA, JAPAN, and KOREA; winters in southeastern Asia, INDONESIA, PHILIPPINES, and SULAWESI; P. p. palawanensis: PHILIPPINES (Palawan and Calauit); P. p. philippensis: Northern and eastern PHILIPPINES; P. p. ptilorhynchus: JAVA; P. p. ruficollis: INDIA and SRI LANKA east through BURMA to south-central CHINA; P. p. torquatus: Malay Peninsula, SUMATRA, and BORNEO. more....

Taxonomy: The genus Pernis is a primitive accipitrid with no close relations to Buteo (Seibold and Helbig 1995). Wink (1995) found that it clusters with the Neophron/Gypaetus clade of Old World vultures. Based on molecular sequences of the cytochrome b gene, Gamauf and Haring (2004) found that the cuckoo hawks, Aviceda, form a sister group to Pernis, but their analysis indicated that Henicopernis and the Old World vultures, Gypaetus and Neophron, appear only distantly related to Pernis. The relationships of this form to Pernis apivorus have been much debated, and some authors (e.g., Brown and Amadon 1968) have lumped them into a single species, based partly on reports of individuals with intermediate characters from Siberia and Kazakhstan (Vaurie 1965). That possibility is disputed by some authors, and most recent authorities have continued to maintain them as separate species. Surprisingly, the molecular studies of Gamauf and Preleuthner (2005) indicated that the two species are monophyletic and do not even form a superspecies. The species name is often spelled P. ptilorhynchus. Beaman (1994) provided well-reasoned arguments against the use of the name "Oriental Honey Buzzard" for this species, as had been proposed by Sibley and Monroe (1990). more....

Movements: Partial, trans-equatorial migrant (Bildstein 2006). The race orientalis is completely migratory, but the five insular races are probably sedentary. The former race is one of the raptors species that dominates the "East Asian Continental Flyway," a 7,000-km overland system extending from eastern Siberia to Southeast Asia and the Indonesian Archipelago (Bildstein and Zalles 2005). more....

Habitat and Habits: In its Asian breeding range, it occurs in lowland and montane deciduous broad-leafed or mixed broad-leafed/coniferous forests with river valleys (Brazil 2009). In Southeast Asia, it occurs in lowland broad-leafed evergreen and deciduous forest and open wooded country (Robson 2000). On the Malay Peninsula, it occurs in lowland and montane forests, with a possible preference for edge habitats, from the plains to about 1,220 m; also at the edge of mangroves, in coconut and overgrown rubber plantations and even in wooded urban parks in Singapore (Wells 1999). Usually seen soaring over hilly areas (Coates and Bishop 1997). Forms large flocks in migration.

Food and Feeding Behavior: Specializes in feeding on the larvae and honey of bees and wasps. more....

Breeding: Bulids a stick nest placed in a tall tree. Clutch size is 1-2 eggs, which are white with bright reddish-brown markings. more....

Conservation: Generally common in its breeding and wintering ranges. Categorized as a species of "Least Concern" by BirdLife International.

Important References: 
Ferguson-Lees, J., and D.A. Christie. 2001. Raptors of the world. Houghton
  Mifflin, Boston, MA.
Gamauf, A., and E. Haring. 2004. Molecular phylogeny and biogeography of
  honey-buzzards (genera Pernis and Henicopernis). Journal of
  Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research 42:145-153.
Higuchi, H., H.-J. Shiu, H. Nakamura, A. Uematsu, K. Kuno, M. Saeki, M.
  Hotta, K.-I. Tokita, E. Moriya, E. Morishita, and M. Tamura.
2005. Migration
  of honey-buzzards Pernis apivorus based on satellite tracking.
  Ornithological Science 4:109-115.
Hillcoat, B., G.O. Keijl, and D.J.M. Wallace. 1998. Pernis ptilorhynchus
  Crested Honey Buzzard. BWP Update 2:137-141.
Naoroji, R. 2006. Birds of prey of the Indian subcontinent. Christopher
  Helm, London.
Orta, J., and B.-U. Meyburg. 1994. Eastern Honey-buzzard. Pp. 111-112 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,
van Balen, S., R. Sözer, V. Nijman, R. Dennis, E. Meijaard, and P. Jepson.
  1999. Juvenile plumage of Javan Crested Honey Buzzard, with comments on
  mimicry in south-eastern Asian Pernis and Spizaetus species. Dutch Birding
Vaurie, C., and D. Amadon. 1962. Notes on the honey buzzards of eastern
  Asia. American Museum Novitates no. 2111.
Wells, D.R. 1999. The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula, covering Burma
  and Thailand south of the eleventh parallel, Peninsular Malaysia and
  Singapore. Volume One. Non-passerines. Academic Press, San Diego, CA.
Wink, M. 1995. Phylogeny of Old and New World vultures (Aves: Accipitridae
  and Cathartidae) inferred from nucleotide sequences of the mitochondrial
  cytochrome b gene. Verlag der Zeitschrift für Naturforschung 50c:868-882.

Sites of Interest:
Crested Honey Buzzard photos.

Adi Purwanto, Asman
Ahmad Ghazali, Wan Shahara
Gamauf, Anita
Germi, Francesco
Kasorndorkbua, Chaiyan
Le Manh, Hung
Lim, Aun -Tiah
Severinghaus, Lucia Liu

Last modified: 8/27/2014

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2022. Species account: Crested Honey Buzzard Pernis ptilorhyncus. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 23 Jan. 2022

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