The Honey-Buzzards are distinguished from all other Accipitrine birds by having the lores and sides of the head, like the forehead and chin, covered with small scale-like feathers, without any bristles or bristly ends. This dense covering probably serves as a protection against the stings of bees and wasps, the combs and young of which form the principal food of the genus.
The bill is weak, rather elongate, not much hooked at the end, and with a small festoon or none; nostrils long, narrow, and oblique, the upper margin membranous. Wings long, 3rd and 4th quills subequal and longest, 5th very little shorter. Tail moderately long, slightly rounded. Tarsus short, stout, plumed halfway down in front, the naked portion covered all round with small subhexagonal non-imbricate scales; toes long, covered above with bony transverse shields, all divided except the last two or three ; claws long, slightly curved, middle claw somewhat dilated on the inner side.
Honey-Buzzards occur throughout most parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa, and one species is Indian. A second, described by Hume as P. tweeddalii (S. F. ix, p. 446; x, pp. 122, 573, plate), was founded on specimens from the Malay Peninsula and was at first regarded as identical with P. brachypterus, the type of which was sent to Blyth by Captain Berdmore from Mergui. But the de¬scription of P. brachypterus would apply equally well to a young P. cristatus, and until an unmistakable specimen is obtained from Tenasserim, P. tweeddalii cannot be included amongst Burmese birds.