Black Baza

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Image:BlackBaza.jpg

Common Name: Black Baza
Scientific Name: Aviceda leuphotes

Size: 11.8-13.7 inches (30-35 cm); Wingspan: 26-31.5 inches (66-80 cm)

Habitat: Asia; found in Southeast Asia and parts of South Asia. They are migratory in parts of their range. Migratory birds may be seen in large numbers at some locations, such as Chumphon, in Thailand, where they account for nearly 40% of the raptors on passage. The species may be a regular winter visitor in the eastern part of peninsular India, and not just a passage migrant.

It occurs in open deciduous or evergreen tropical forest, often around clearings and near streams or rivers. This species can be seen from sea-level up to 1500 m of elevation. This species breeds between 100 and 1200 m. They spend the night at communal roosts outside of the breeding season, and at this period, they often frequent orchards and gardens near villages, as well as hunt over the rice fields.

Status: Least Concern. Global population: >10,000 adult individuals with a decreasing population trend. The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction.

Diet: Mostly large insects such as grasshoppers. It also catches lizards and tree frogs, and occasionally small mammals, bats and birds.

It hunts from a concealed perch, but also in the open. It may briefly hover in front of vegetation to snatch prey from foliage. It performs short flights through the canopy, from perch to perch, and through insect swarms or passerine communal roosts. The Black Baza will hunt occasionally in small flocks and it is more active at dusk.

Nesting: The adult male has a black head, neck and upper parts. There is a conspicuous long, black crest on the hind crown. The hooked bill is blackish with dark blue-gray cere with tomial teeth on both edges of the upper mandible. The eyes are reddish-brown. Legs and feet are dull grayish-black.Some variable chestnut markings are visible on lower back, scapulars and greater wing-coverts. The secondary flight feathers show chestnut and white patches. The tail is black.

On the underparts, the throat is black. There is a conspicuous white breast band bordered below by narrow black stripe and variable chestnut bands. The belly is more or less rufous barred buff. The vent, under tail coverts and thighs are black. On the under wing, the coverts are black. The primary flight feathers are grayish, whereas secondaries and tertials are darker gray. The under tail feathers are grayish.

The female has white only on the scapulars and more chestnut bands on the underside unlike the few bands in the male.

The juvenile resembles adults but its plumage is duller and it has white streaks on the black throat, and brown streaks on the white breast band. The crest is slightly shorter than in adults.

The breeding season varies according to the range, but usually occurs between February and June. Both sexes build a small compact nest with twigs and thin sticks in a large tree in the forest, between 20 and 30 m above the ground and often near water. The shallow cup is lined with soft materials such as grass, plant fibers and green leaves. The female lays 2-3 eggs and the incubation is shared by both parents. The chicks are fed with insects.

Cool Facts: This raptor is often seen in pairs or in family groups, but this gregarious species occurs also in small groups of 4-5 birds perched in the same tree. During winter, they sleep at communal night-time roosts in groups of up 20-25 birds.

There are three subspecies:

  • A. l. syama, first reported by Hodgson,in 1837. It is found from eastern Nepal, northeastern India to south China which winters in Indo-China and the Malaya Peninsula. It lacks the chestnut bands on the breast and the white spots on the tertials.
  • A. l. leuphotes, first reported by Dumont in 1820. The nominate species.
  • A. l. andamanica, first reported by Abdulali & Grubh in 1970 is endemic to the Andaman Islands. It has completely white underparts lacking any chestnut bands.



Found in Songbird ReMix Birds of Prey Volume 5: Falcons, Hawks & Eagles

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