Black Baza    Aviceda leuphotes

Etymology :

  • Aviceda : Latin word avis- bird; caedere –to kill  { Killer Bird}
  • Leuphotes: Greek word for Crested

Vernacular names : Cachar: Daokwa, Daoling, Mal: Prapparundu, Mar: Kaltop Baza

Distribution in India:  Resident of Himalayan foothills, North East and South India.

Description: Size of 28–35 cm; wt. of 168–224 g; wingspan of 64–80 cm.  It is a small, chunky black kite with long crest often held erect, except in flight on a pigeon-like head. It looks pied, and looks more like a crow rather than accipitrid. The flight is leisurely, with crow-like flaps interspersed by short glides on almost flat wings, with broad round tips obvious. It is largely black with long crest, whitish breast band, rufous barring on underparts, greyish undersides to primaries contrasting with black underwing-coverts. It has an extensive patch of white on upperwing. The female is similar to male, but lacks or has much-reduced white on secondaries, and has seven, narrower, chestnut bars below, Iris is purplish- to reddish brown, cere is dark blue-grey, and legs and feet are grey-black to blue-black. The juvenile is also similar, but duller and browner, with slightly shorter crest, more white on back but less on secondaries, white streaks on throat and underparts barring are more brown than rufous. It achieves adult plumage by second year.

Habitat: It is found in open deciduous or evergreen tropical forest, including second growth and bamboo-dominated areas, especially around clearings and wide streams, from sea level up to 1500 m.

Food habits: It eats large insects and their larvae, like grasshoppers, beetles, mantids and moths, and vertebrates like lizards and tree-frogs; small mammals and birds. It hunts from perch high, concealed or open, making short sallies to take insects in flight. It also takes prey from leaves mainly in canopy or ground. It sometimes does a brief sally and hover, but also hangs upside-down. . It is more active when overcast and at dawn and dusk and at times gregarious.

Breeding habits: They breed in Mar–May in Burma; Feb–Jun in South West India; Apr–Jun in North East India. The nest is a small, compact nest of sticks built by pair up in large forest tree, often near water. The nest is lined with grass, fibers and green leaves. .They lay a clutch of 2–3 eggs incubated. The incubation period is 26–27 days. Both sexes incubate, brood and provision the chicks, but female appears to be responsible for bulk of incubation and brooding duties. The fledging period is 29 days.