It breeds in Asia from central Siberia east to Japan. It is a summer migrant to Siberia, wintering in tropical south east Asia. Elsewhere it is more-or-less resident. It is a specialist feeder, living mainly on the larvae and nests of wasps, although it will take other small prey.
The Oriental Honey Buzzard breeds in woodland, and is inconspicuous except in the spring, when the mating display includes wing-clapping.
It is larger and longer winged than its western counterpart, Honey Buzzard, Pernis apivorus.
It 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, but not as dark as Honey Buzzard, 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, whilst the female resembles female Honey Buzzard.