Crested Honey Buzzard vs Oriental Honey Buzzard: What’s the Difference?

by Victor
crested honey buzzard

The world of raptors is filled with diverse and fascinating species, each showcasing unique characteristics and adaptations. Two such avian wonders are the Crested Honey Buzzard (Pernis ptilorhynchus) and the Oriental Honey Buzzard (Pernis orientalis). While these birds share a similar ecological niche and a common interest in honey and honeycomb, they possess distinct features that set them apart. In this article, we delve into the differences between the Crested Honey Buzzard and the Oriental Honey Buzzard, shedding light on their appearances, habitats, and behaviors.

Physical Appearance:

One of the key differentiating factors between the Crested Honey Buzzard and the Oriental Honey Buzzard lies in their physical characteristics.

Crested Honey Buzzard:

The Crested Honey Buzzard is a medium-sized raptor with a distinctively crested head. This crest, composed of elongated feathers, gives the bird a unique and striking appearance. Its plumage exhibits a range of colors, typically varying from dark brown to pale grey. Adult males often feature a darker coloration, while females and juveniles tend to have lighter, more mottled plumage.

Oriental Honey Buzzard:

In contrast, the Oriental Honey Buzzard displays a more uniform appearance. It possesses a relatively long tail and broad wings, which aid in its soaring flight. The plumage of this species varies between individuals and populations, but it generally includes a mix of browns, grays, and rufous tones. In terms of size, the Oriental Honey Buzzard is slightly larger than its crested counterpart.

Habitat and Distribution:

Both the Crested Honey Buzzard and the Oriental Honey Buzzard are found across a wide range of geographical locations, with some variation in their habitats.

Crested Honey Buzzard:

The Crested Honey Buzzard is primarily distributed across parts of Eurasia, including Europe, Asia, and the Indian subcontinent. It typically inhabits forested areas, including deciduous and coniferous forests, as well as wooded hillsides and mountainous regions. This species is known for its preference for forested habitats, where it can find a diverse range of prey.

Oriental Honey Buzzard:

The Oriental Honey Buzzard has a more extensive distribution, spanning from eastern Europe and Asia to Southeast Asia. It can be found in a variety of habitats, including forests, woodlands, and even urban areas. Unlike the Crested Honey Buzzard, the Oriental Honey Buzzard is known to undertake long-distance migrations, making it a highly mobile species.

Feeding Habitats:

Both species share a common interest in honey, but their feeding behaviors and dietary preferences differ.

Crested Honey Buzzard:

The Crested Honey Buzzard feeds primarily on the larvae of social bees and wasps, especially during the breeding season. It possesses unique adaptations, such as specialized bill shape and leg length, which enable it to access the interiors of nests and extract the honeycombs. In addition to insects, this species also consumes small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and occasionally, small birds.

Oriental Honey Buzzard:

The Oriental Honey Buzzard, as its name suggests, is highly specialized in its consumption of honey and honeycombs. However, its diet extends beyond just these sweet treats. It also preys on a variety of insects, including caterpillars, beetles, and other invertebrates. This species employs a unique technique known as “branch-hawking,” where it perches on a branch, scans the surroundings for prey, and swoops down to catch it.


Both species of honey buzzards are migratory, with the crested honey buzzard undertaking long-distance migrations from Southeast Asia to northern China and Japan during the breeding season. The oriental honey buzzard also travels long distances during migration, mainly between Siberia and Southeast Asia.

During the breeding season, both species build their nests in trees, with the crested honey buzzard typically choosing tall trees in forested areas, while the oriental honey buzzard nests at lower heights in trees close to human habitation. Both species lay two eggs per clutch, and the young fledge after about six weeks.


While both the Crested Honey Buzzard and the Oriental Honey Buzzard belong to the same genus and share a similar ecological niche, they possess distinct features that differentiate them from each other. The Crested Honey Buzzard stands out with its crested head and varying plumage, while the Oriental Honey Buzzard exhibits a more uniform appearance. They inhabit different regions and habitats, and while they both have a fondness for honey, their diets extend to other prey as well. Exploring these differences not only enriches our understanding of these magnificent raptors but also emphasizes the importance of conserving their habitats to ensure their continued presence in our natural ecosystems.

Related topics:

Related Posts is a comprehensive online platform dedicated to all fly bird related. Immerse yourself in a world of birdwatching, conservation, species profiles, and captivating bird photography. Join our vibrant community of bird world and embark on a thrilling journey through the fascinating realm of birds. We strive to be your trusted companion in your avian journey.

Copyright © 2023 Fly bird_Bird world_All bird – All rights reserved. Fly bird