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Black Honey Buzzard

Henicopernis infuscatus

The Black Honey Buzzard, or New Britain Honey-Buzzard, is a majestic raptor with a somber palette of dark grey-brown plumage. It stands approximately 50 cm tall, with a wingspan stretching between 110 and 115 cm. This bird is adorned with pale silvery bars on its wings and tail, which are particularly visible when it is perched. In flight, these bars are striking, and the bird's long wings with a narrow base, broad tips, and bulging outer primaries are distinctive.

Identification Tips

When attempting to identify the Black Honey Buzzard, look for its dark head and body contrasted with white bands on the tail and flight feathers. The wing shape is unique, with a narrow base and broad tips, and the pale bars on the wings and tail are notable. Juvenile markings remain a mystery to us.

Habitat

This bird favors the primary rainforests of New Britain, an island within the Bismarck Archipelago of Papua New Guinea. It thrives in hilly terrains and can be found at altitudes up to 1,300 meters.

Distribution

The Black Honey Buzzard is endemic to New Britain, Papua New Guinea. Its population is estimated to be between 6,000 and 15,000 mature individuals.

Behaviour

The Black Honey Buzzard is a sedentary creature, thought to remain within its dense forest habitat. It is unobtrusive and shy by nature, making sightings a rare delight.

Song & Calls

The vocal repertoire of this buzzard consists of a sequence of 12 piping notes. These notes accelerate and shorten over a span of about three seconds, creating a distinctive auditory signature.

Diet and Feeding

While the exact diet of the Black Honey Buzzard is not well-documented, it is presumed to feed on arthropods, lizards, birds, and birds' eggs, akin to its relative, the Long-tailed Honey Buzzard.

Breeding

The Black Honey Buzzard's breeding habits are shrouded in secrecy due to its reclusive disposition. It is estimated that the generation length is around 10 years, inferred from similar-sized raptors.

Conservation status

Classified as Vulnerable, the Black Honey Buzzard faces threats from habitat loss due to deforestation for logging and agricultural expansion. Despite this, much of its range includes steep and montane areas unsuitable for such activities, offering some refuge for the species.

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