1249. Pernis cristatus.
The Crested Honey-Buzzard.
Buteo cristatus, Cur., Vieill. Tabl. Enc. Meth., Orn. p. 1225 (March 1823). Falco ptilorhynchus, Temm. Pl. Col. pl. 44 (July 1823). Pernis cristata, Cuv. Regne An. ed. 2, i, p. 335 (1829) ; Jerdon, Madr. Jour. L. S. x, p. 73; Blyth, Cat. p. 18; Horsf. & M. Cat. i, p. 63; Jerdon, B. I. i, p. 108; Hume, Rough Notes, p. 330; Blyth, Ibis, 1870, p. 160; id. S. F. i, p. 103; Anderson, P. Z. S. 1872, p. 80; Adam, S. F. i, p. 369 ; Brooks, J. A. S. B. xliii, pt. 2, p. 243. Pernis ptilorhynchus, Steph. Gen. Zool. xiii, pt. 2, p. 44, pi. 35 ; Holdsworth, P. Z. S. 1872, p. 414; Hume, N. & E. p. 55; Butler, S. F, iii, p. 448; Blyth & Wald. Birds Burm. p. 60; Fairbank, S. I. iv, p. 253; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 23; Ball, S. F. vii, p. 200 ; Hume, Cat. no. 57; Butler, S. F. ix, p. 375; Gurney, Ibis, 1880, p. 203 ; Reid, S. F. x, p. 13; Davison, ibid. p. 340 ; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 207; Hume, S. F. xi, p. 16; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 57; Oates in Hume's N. & F. 2nd ed. iii, p. 181. Pernis elliotti, Jameson, Mem. Wern. Soc. vii, p. 493 (1838), descr. nulla,; Jerdon, Madr. Jour. L. S. x, p. 74. Pernis brachypterus, Blyth, J. A. S. B. xxi, p. 436 (1852); Hume, S. F. iii, p. 36 ; id. Cat. no. 57 bis. Pernis ptilonorhynchus, Sharpe, Cat. B. M. i, p. 347 ; legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 89.
Shahutela, Madkdre, H.; Madhava, Nepal; Tenu gedda, Tel.; Ten prandu, Tam.; Jen alawa, Can.; Iutalu, Yerkli; Malsuwari, Mhari, All names having reference to honey.
Coloration very variable. The adult plumage most commonly seen is the following: forehead, lores, sides of head, including ear-coverts and chin, ashy grey (the extent varies), passing gradually into the dark brown of the neck, body, and wings; sometimes there is a small nuchal crest of black or brown ovate feathers. Blackish shaft-stripes frequently occur on the crown, neck, back, wing-coverts, and breast, or on some of them. Primaries brown outside, whity brown inside, with black ends and two blackish bands. Tail black or blackish brown; the narrow tip, a broad band 2 to 3 inches wide about the middle, and a narrower half-inch band just beyond the coverts pale greyish brown.
The ashy grey of the head is sometimes wanting, the brown of the upper surface is not always uniform, and the lower surface is often lighter than the upper, and is in many birds spotted or transversely banded with white ; the throat may be light brown mixed with white, or mainly white, and is not unfrequently marked with three blackish longitudinal stripes, generally united behind.
In young birds the crown and nape are light rufous with dark shaft-stripes and white bases, the latter usually conspicuous; occasionally the whole head is white with blackish stripes; the upper parts are brown, the feathers more or less edged with white; quills and tail very irregularly mottled and barred with ashy brown ; lower parts either pure white with or without dark brown longitudinal stripes or drops, or pale or dark brown with blackish shaft-stripes. The crest is generally well developed, but the crest-feathers are only about 1/2 to 1/4 inch longer than the others.
" In most birds in a transition state the feathers of the lower parts are banded brown and white, especially on the lower abdomen, thigh-coverts, &c, and some of these feathers are generally to be found at all ages" (Jerdon).
Hume has pointed out that the adults may always be known by the broad pale cross-band on the tad not being barred though it' may be mottled.
Bill blackish, gape and base of lower mandible bluish ; cere deep leaden colour ; iris golden yellow, brownish yellow, or red; legs and feet yellow.
Length of females about 27 inches; tail 10.5 ; wing 17.1; tarsus 2; mid-toe without claw 2.1; bill from gape 1.7. Males run rather smaller: length 25 inches, wing 16. Birds from Southern India, Ceylon, and Burma are smaller than those from Northern India.
Distribution. Almost throughout India, Ceylon, and Burma, in suitable places; also in Siam, Cochin China, the Philippine Islands, the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Java, and Borneo. This bird is only found in "the Himalayas below about 4000 feet, and it is in these mountains rare to the eastward, though specimens were obtained by Mandelli in Sikhim; it occurs in the Punjab, but has not been observed in Sind. It is most common in well-wooded and well- watered tracts. It is partially at all events migratory in Ceylon,
and probably in parts of India. It is rare in Tenasserim, but less so in Pegu and Upper Burma.
Habits, &c. The Crested Honey-Buzzard lives amongst trees and is occasionally seen soaring above them. Its flight is direct and hurried rather than quick, and it seldom flies far, except when soaring. It feeds principally on the combs of bees,—eating honey, wax and larva),—also on bees themselves, on other insects, on reptiles, and it is said on the eggs and young of small birds. It is by no means a shy bird, and is often found living and even breeding in well-wooded gardens and in groves around houses. It breeds from April to July in Northern India, builds a nest of sticks thickly lined with leaves or grass (often with green leaves) on a fork of a tree, and lays usually two eggs, but sometimes only one, broad oval in shape, white or buff thickly mottled and blotched with blood-red, reddish or yellowish brown, and measuring about 2.03 by 1.72.