The genus Henicopernis, together with the genera Aviceda, Pernis, Leptodon, Chondrohierax and Elanoides, form the subfamily Perninae which lack the os supraorbitale, a bony shield projecting above the eye that is present in hawks. Henicopernis consists of only two species. Henicopernis does not cluster with Gypaetus and Neophron, but seems to belong to an old endemic Australasiatic lineage standing somewhere between the Gypaetus/Neophron lineage and Buteo. Morphological similarities may be explained by convergent evolution of specific characters in adaptation to similar functions under
similar environmental conditions.
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Nearly all lowland and hill forests on gentle gradients on New Britain have been logged or are under logging concessions, and large areas have been subsequently converted to oil-palm plantations. However, much of this species’s habitat is on steep slopes and montane forest which is not suitable for logging. These striking birds are likely to be shot opportunistically as trophies and for meat1. Hunting has rendered H. longicauda scarce in some areas of New Guinea