(1803) Astur badius dussumieri.
THE INDIAN- SHIKRA.
Falco dussumieri Temm., Pl Col., livr. 52, pi. 308 (1824) (Bengal) Astur badius. Blanf. & Oates, iii, p. 398 part.).
Vernacular names. Shikra , Chipka or Chippak (Hind.) ; Kathia ,Tunna (Nepal), Ting-kyi (Lepcha) ; U-cham (Bhut.).
Description. Similar to the typical form but rather larger, a trifle paler and distinctly more ashy, less grey above; on an average, also, the barring underneath is paler.
Colours of soft parts as in the typical form.
Measurements. Wing, 177 to 190 mm., 201 to 220 mm.; culmen, 20 to 22 mm.
Distribution. The whole of India, except Travancore, from Kashmir and the North-West Frontier to Sikkim and Bengal. In the extreme North-West and Sind its place is taken by the next bird.
Nidification. The Shikra breeds in Southern India in March and April and in Northern India in April and May. The nest is usually placed high up on trees either quite in the open or, preferably, in orchards or groves and it is the exception to find nests even in thin forest. They are small for Hawks' nests, loosely put together, seldom lined and stand but little handling. Mango-trees in clumps form very favourite sites, the nests being high up in stoutish forks. The eggs number three or, less often, four, whilst two are sometimes incubated and Anderson once took five. In colour they are the palest skim-milk blue possible but fade quickly to almost pure white. Every now and then an egg may be seen with a few black specks or with faint reddish blotches. Sixty eggs average 38.5 x 31.2 mm.: maxima 42.6 x 31.6 and 41.3 x 33.0 mm.; minima 36.1 X 29.2 mm.
Habits. The Indian Shikra dislikes deep forest or the driest deserts, preferring open country, cultivation, grassland, or scrub with groves of trees and mango-orchards. It has no fear of humanity and in many places, as in Bihar, it is most common round villages and often enters gardens. Its flight is powerful and it is a most plucky little hawk, often used for falconry, being thrown from the hand at quails and other small game-birds, whilst some are trained almost exclusively to hunt crows. I have also known it used to hunt pond-herons. Its food and voice is the same as that of the preceding bird.