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Black-breasted Buzzard
Hamirostra melanosternon

Status: Lower risk

Population Trend: Declining.

Other Names: Black-breasted Buzzard Kite, Black-breasted Buzzard-kite, Black-breasted Kite.

Hamirostra melanosternon
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Distribution: Australasian. Endemic to northern and central AUSTRALIA.more....

Subspecies: Monotypic.

Taxonomy: Probably more closely related to other Australasian groups than to the kite genera, Haliastur and Milvus, as previously thought (Debus 1994, 1998). This conclusion was supported by the molecular studies of Wink and Sauer-Gürth (2004), based on the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene, and Lerner and Mindell (2005), based on the nucleotide sequences from two mitochondrial genes and one nuclear intron, which indicated that Hamirostra melanosternon and Lophoictinia isura are sister species. They are members of the Perninae, which includes the Old World honey buzzards, and together with Pernis, Elanus, Henicopernis, and the Neotropical genera Elanoides, Leptodon, and Chondrohierax, they are apparently derived from a Gondwanan group.

Movements: Irruptive or local migrant (Bildstein 2006). Probably mostly sedentary, but there is a clear tendency for birds to be found further south in summer and further north in winter (Blakers et al. 1984).

Habitat and Habits: Typically soars high on upswept wings over open plains, inland timbered watercourses, open woodlands in the north and searches for prey by flying slowly above the mulga canopy (Olsen 1995). A solitary hawk of wooded and open habitats, particularly riverine woodlands and forests, although it gathers in numbers at carrion or eggs of large, ground-nesting birds (Debus 1998). It forages by flying fast gliding transects at moderate heights and by low, slow quartering or high soaring, and swoops to snatch prey from trees or to seize it on the ground (Debus op cit.). It sometimes walks on the ground, searching for prey.

Food and Feeding Behavior: Preys on ground-dwelling animals, eats the contents of large eggs, which it breaks with a rock thrown from the bill, and feeds on carrion (Olsen 1995). Feeds on mammals (particularly young rabbits), birds (especially nestlings and eggs), reptiles, carrion, and, occasionally, large insects (Debus 1998).

Breeding: The laying season is from June to November, usually from August to October (Debus 1998). Pairs nest solitarily, and the nest is a large platform of sticks, lined with green leaves, and placed 6-22 m above the ground in the fork of a living or dead tree (Debus op cit.). Clutch is usually two eggs, sometimes one or three, the incubation period is probably about 40 days, and the nestling period is about 60 days (Debus op cit.). Usually, only one young is fledged, and the period of dependence after fledging lasts from two to five months.

Conservation: This species is not threatened, but its conservation status is of concern (Debus 1998). It is generally uncommon, and populations have declined in the southeast of its range as a result of clearing and degradation of habitat, the decline or extinction of native prey animals, and the poisoning of carcasses (Debus op cit.). It has probably benefited from the introduction of rabbits and the increase in stock carrion, but it is sometimes killed while scavenging on roads and is subject to illegal egg collecting (Debus op cit.). Categorized as a species of "Least Concern" by BirdLife International (2008), but as Vulnerable in New South Wales and Rare in South Australia (Debus 2008). more....

Important References: 
Aumann, T. 1990. Use of stones by the Black-breasted Buzzard Hamirostra
to gain access to egg contents for food. Emu 90:141-144.
Debus, S.J.S. 1994. Black-breasted Buzzard. Pp. 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, 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.
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.

Debus, Stephen

Last modified: 2/17/2011

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2020. Species account: Black-breasted Buzzard Hamirostra melanosternon. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 4 Jul. 2020

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