Pernis ptilorhynchus, Tem.
57. :- Pernis cristata, Cuv. :- Jerdon's Birds of India, Vol. I, p. 108; Butler, Guzerat; Stray Feathers, Vol. III, p. 448; Deccan, Stray Feathers, Vol. IX, p. 375; Swinhoe and Barnes; Central India; Ibis, 1885, p. 58; Hume's Scrap Book, p. 330.
THE HONEY BUZZARD.
Length, 24 to 25.5 ; expanse, 49 to 54 ; wing, 15.5 to 16 ; tail, 10.3 to 11; bill from gape, 1.4 to 1.45.
Length, 26 to 28; expanse, 55 to 57; wing, 15.75 to 17.25 ; tail, 11.5 to 12.75 ; bill from gape, 1.63 to 1.76.
Young bird: brown above, the feathers more or less edged lighter; head and neck usually paler, sometimes rufous-brown, at other times whitish, with central dark streaks, more or less developed; beneath white, sometimes only faintly streaked, at times with large streaks, more rarely with large oval brown drops, and with or without a dark central chin-stripe, and two lateral ones.
In some birds, especially those from Southern India, there is a well marked occipital crest of several graduated feathers, generally deep brown or almost black.
In a further stage the brown above becomes darker and more uniform ; and the lower parts assume a pale rufous brown tinge, with the central streak more or less developed, according as it was in the young bird, and the incomplete tail bands are more clouded.
The adult has the plumage above rich brown ; the head and lores generally, but not always, suffused with ashy-grey, and the lower parts uniform darkish-brown, with the dark streak almost obliterated; the tail is brownish-ashy, faintly clouded with dusky, and with two wide dark black bars, and a third, almost concealed by the upper tail-coverts ; the terminal bar is tipped white or greyish.
The wings reach to about three inches from the end of the tail; the gape is short, only reaching to the anterior part of the eye.
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.
Mr. Hume, after giving very detailed descriptions in his " Scrap Book," adds : " Almost every possible combination of the varying plumage, and shades of color, of different parts, above described, may be met with."
Jerdon omits giving the colors of the soft parts ; the omission has been well supplied by Mr. Hume, whom I now quote : :-
" The legs and feet, which are very full and puffy, vary from dingy yellowish-white in the young to bees wax-yellow in old adults; scutellation well marked and reticulate (the plates somewhat concave, especially at back of tarsus), except about three or four transverse scutae at the tip of all the toes ; a mere trace of a connecting membrane between the central and outward toes at the base ; claws black, and except the mid-toe claw, compressed; hind-claw much curved, and mid-claw with the interior margin usually much dilated, especially towards the tip ; irides brilliant yellow, duller or slightly brownish in younger birds ; cere black, greenish at nostrils and towards commissure ; gape and two-thirds of the commissure from gape, and greater portion of lower mandible, pale blue ; greater portion of upper mandible and tip of lower black ; a small dingy-greenish patch on each side of the lower mandible towards the base; tongue moderate, obtuse, entire, rather stiff and membraneous towards the tip (where it is slightly emarginate) and margins."
With the exception of Sind, the Honey Buzzard is more or less common throughout the region; it occurs more plentifully in well-wooded districts ; it is a permanent resident, and breeds during May and June. The nest is generally placed at some height in a fork of a tree, and is composed of twigs, lined with dead leaves ; the eggs, two in number, are very broad oval or nearly spherical in shape ; they are white, or buffy-white, in color, thickly clouded, blotched, or capped with deep reddish-brown or blood-red; they measure 2 inches in Length, by about 1.7 inches in breadth.