(1819) Pernis ptilorhynchus ruficollis.
THE INDIAN CRESTED, HONEY-BUZZARD,
Pernis ruficollis Lesson, Traite d'Orn, p. 76,1831 (Bengal). Pernis cristatus. Blanf. & Oates, iii, p. 406 (part.).
Vernacular names. Shahutela, Madkare (Hind.); Madhava (Nepal;; Tenu gedda (Tel.); Ten Prandu (Tam.); Jen alawa (Can.); Iutalu (Yerkli); Malsuwari (Mhari); Katta parantha (Travancore).
Description. Similar to the preceding bird but with the crest much less developed. In this race the great majority of fully adult birds assume the jail brown plumage and, on the other hand, I have never seen any Indian specimen similar to the black and white barred phase from Malaya/named tweedalei.
Colours of soft parts as in the preceding bird.
Measurements. Wing 388 to 416 mm., rarely up to 425 mm.; tail 225 to 254 mm.; tarsus 47 to 50 mm.; culmen 33 to 37 mm.
Young birds go through the same changes as the typical form.
Distribution. Coy Ion and India from the extreme South, North to the Punjab but not Sind*; Bihar, Bengal and Assam both North and South of the Brahmapootra; Burma as far East as the Ruby Mines district (Hopwood) and the Southern Shan States (J. P. Cook).
Nidification. This Honey-Buzzard breeds in the plains of Northern India and occasionally in the hills up to 4,000 feet during April, May and June but in Southern India most birds lay in February whilst in Dacca also 1 took a nest on the 16th of that month. Blewitt, however, got eggs as late as the 10th July at Hansie. The birds build their own nests of small sticks, spending a month to six weeks over its construction, lining it sometimes with grass but always with a final, bed of green leaves. The, nest varies greatly in size but is generally between ,18 and 24 inches across and about 6 to 12 inches deep, with a well-made depression for the eggs. The tree in which it is placed may be a solitary one in plain or in cultivation, one of an orchard or grove, or one in a garden. The eggs number two, occasionally only one, and vary in an extraordinary manner. Some are brick-red all over, the paler ground hardly showing at all, though some have deeper blotches of blood-red over the brick-red. Some are like gigantic eggs of the Kestrel, some marked like Sparrow-Hawks' eggs, whilst many are just like richly-marked eggs of Kites, from which they could not be distinguished but for their yellow inner membrane. A very beautiful type has a white or pale cream ground-colour with clouds and smears of deep blood-red brown, underlying which are others of plum-grey. Forty eggs average 52.7 X 42.7 mm.: maxima 57.0 x 45.3 and 53.2 x 45.5 mm.; minima 49.5 x 43.0 and 50.0 x 39.0 mm.
Habits. This fine bird frequents well-wooded open country, rarely being found in deep forest or the drier plains. It is a bold bird, often haunting the vicinity of towns and villages, freely entering gardens and parks. It occasionally soars but its normal flight is a quick flapping, unrelieved by sailing, from one tree to another. It feeds principally on bees and their honey, wax and larvae and the one time it really indulges in hard exercise and quick movement is when it gets into a migratory swarm of bees— an event I was once fortunate enough to see. It also eats small snakes, lizards, frogs, mammals and birds and is a confirmed stealer of other birds' eggs and young. The note is a high-pitched short whistle, repeated quickly.