The Oriental Honey Buzzard appears long-necked with a small head, and soars on flat wings. It has a long tail and a short head crest. It is brown above, and paler below. There is a dark throat stripe. Unusually for a large bird of prey, the sexes can be distinguished. The male has a blue-grey head, while the female's head is brown. She is slightly larger and darker than the male. The male has a black tail with a white band. It is a specialist feeder, living mainly on the larvae and nests of wasps, although it will take other small insect prey such as cicadas.
It breeds in Asia from central Siberia east to Japan. It is a summer migrant to Siberia, wintering in tropical south east Asia.
The Crested Honey Buzzard breeds in woodland, and is inconspicuous except in the spring, when the mating display includes wing-clapping. The display of roller-coasting in flight and fluttering wings at the peak of the ascent are characteristic of the genus Pernis.