Oriental Honey-buzzard: 1. Nesting

posted in: Nesting, Raptors | 2


The Oriental Honey-buzzard (Pernis ptilorhyncus torquatus) is an uncommon resident of Peninsular Malaysia. This subspecies has always been presumed to be breeding but there have been no records until only recently.

A pair of this subspecies had apparently made their home within the grounds of the Royal Perak Golf Club in Ipoh, Malaysia since 1998. This is a suburban area with plenty of old trees. The surrounding areas are similarly covered with mature trees making it conducive for the pair to live and breed.


The birds were presumed to be breeding in 1998 as an adult and a juvenile were first spotted in October. Later, a nest was discovered in a tembusu tree (Fagraea fragrans) within the grounds of the club.

Since then, there was at least one nesting every year, although in 2003 and 2005 there were a second nesting. So far a total of ten breeding sessions had been recorded up to 2005.

The image aove shows an adult male while that on the right, an adult female.

The nests were always built about 18-24 metres above ground. The birds preferred old, mature trees, especially tembusu trees, although there were cases of nesting in angsana (Pterocarpus indicus) and acacia (Acacia auriculiformis) trees. These are all popular wayside trees.

Nest building usually occurred in the morning mainly, although the birds also worked for shorter periods in the afternoon and evening during the early stages. The male usually collected nesting materials, breaking off twigs with his bill. With larger twigs he would use his body, flapping his wings to help break off the branch. The pieces were brought to the waiting female, gripped in his feet. Only twice did the birds reused the old nest.


Juveniles (left) from the pervious season had been observed trying to help in nest building but invariable they were rebuffed by the adults.

Sometimes the birds were observed to start building their nest in a particular tree to later change their mind and chose another tree. There was a case when two to three trees were chosen before the nest was completed in a final tree.

The period between courtship and the fledgling of the chick varied from four to five-and-a-half months. In most seasons this period covered September to March except for 2003 (January-April) and 2005 (April-August) when there were a second nesting.

The above has been abstracted from a paper “Observations on the breeding ecology of Oriental Honey Buzzard Pernia ptilorhyncus torquatus in Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia” that Chiu Sein Chiong presented at the Asian Raptor Research and Conservation Network’s 4th Asian Raptor Symposium held in Taiping, Perak, Malaysia in October 2005. Images of female and juvenile birds by KC Tsang, male bird by Connie Khoo. KC has been instrumental in getting the above blogged.

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