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A photo of a Black Baza (Aviceda leuphotes)
Black Baza

Black Baza

Aviceda leuphotes

The Black Baza (Aviceda leuphotes) is a small, strikingly patterned bird of prey, with a length ranging from 30 to 35 cm, a wingspan of 66 to 80 cm, and a weight between 168 to 224 grams. Its most notable feature is the prominent crest, which stands upright even when the bird is at rest. The plumage exhibits a bold contrast of colors, with the male showcasing white scapulars, secondary coverts, and secondaries, while the female is distinguished by white scapulars and additional chestnut bands on the underside.

Identification Tips

When perched, the Black Baza's crest and contrasting patterns are unmistakable. The underwing pattern is distinctive, aiding in identification during flight. The male and female can be differentiated by the extent of white and chestnut bands on their plumage.

Habitat

This species prefers dense forests, where it can often be spotted perched on bare branches of tall trees that rise above the forest canopy.

Distribution

The Black Baza is found across Northeast India, the eastern Himalayas, China, and Southeast Asia. It exhibits migratory behavior in certain regions, with Indian populations wintering in the south of the Peninsula and Sri Lanka.

Behaviour

Black Bazas are known to be gregarious, especially during migration, when they may form small groups or flocks. They exhibit somewhat crepuscular habits, being more active at dusk and in overcast conditions. They are agile fliers, reminiscent of crows in flight.

Song & Calls

The call of the Black Baza is a distinctive "chu-weep," which bears some similarity to the call of the large cuckoo-shrike. Other vocalizations include a soft squeal or whistle and a shrill, gull-like mewing.

Breeding

Breeding activities for the Black Baza in northeastern India commence in April. Both sexes contribute to nest building, incubation, brooding, and feeding. The nest is a sturdy platform made of thin sticks with a central depression, lined with grass, fiber, and green leaves. Eggs typically hatch after 26-27 days, with chicks being predominantly fed insects.

Similar Species

The Black Baza is quite unique in its appearance, with the crest and coloration making it difficult to confuse with other species. However, care should be taken not to mistake it for other crested raptors when the crest is not visible.

Diet and Feeding

The diet mainly consists of insects, which are captured in aerial sallies or picked off from leaves, always seized with their feet. Occasionally, they may attempt to capture small birds and have been known to feed on the fruits of the oil palm.

Conservation status

The Black Baza is currently listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, indicating that it is not at immediate risk of widespread decline.

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