1244. Astur badius.
Falco badius, Gmel. Syst. Nat. i, p. 280 (1788). Falco dussumieri, Temm. Pl. Col. pls. 308, 336 (1824). Accipiter dukhunensis, Sykes, P. Z. S. 1832, p. 79; Jerdon, Madr. Jour. L. S. x, p. 83. Astur badius, Kaup, Isis, 1847, p. 190; Davison & Wend. S. F. vii, p. 73; Ball, ibid. p. 197; Hume, Cat. no. 23; Scully, S. F. viii, p. 223; Doig, ibid. p. 370; Vidal, S. F. ix, p. 30 ; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 23 ; Butler, S. F. ix, p. 371; Davidson, S. F. x, p. 286 ; Davison, ibid. p. 335; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 22; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 119. Micronisus badius, Bonap. Consp. Av. i, p. 33; Blyth, Cat. p. 22; Horsf. & M. Cat. i, p. 39; Jerdon, B. I. i, p. 48; Hume, Rough Notes, p. 117 ; id. N. & E. p. 24; id. S. F. i, p. 157; A. Anderson, P. Z. S. 1871, p. 682; 1875, p. 19; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. i, p. 109; Blyth & Wald. Birds Burm. p. 62 ; Biddulph, Ibis, 1881, p. 40; St. John, Ibis, 1889, p. 152. ? Astur cenchroides, Severtz. Turk. Jev. p. 113 (1873); id. S. F. iii, p. 422. Micronisus poliopsis, Hume, S. F. ii, p. 325 (1874); Hume & Oates, S. F. iii, p. 24 ; Hume & Inglis, S. F. v, p. 9. Astur poliopsis, Sharpe, Cat. B. M. i, p. 110; Bingham, S. F. v, p. 81; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 7; Cripps, S. F. vii, p. 243; Hume, Cat. no. 23 bis; Bingham, S. F. ix, p. 143; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 179; Hume, S. F. xi, p. 7. Scelospizias badius, Gurney, Ibis, 1875, pp. 357, 360; Scully, Ibis, 1881, p. 419. Scelospizias poliopsis, Gurney, ibid. p. 361; Salvadori, Ann. Mus. Civ. Gen. (2) iv, p. 571; v, p. 557; vii, p. 374. ? Astur (Micronisus) sp., Blanf. East. Pers. ii, p. 108. Accipiter brevipes, apud St. John, Ibis, 1889, p. 152; nec
Sev. Shikra , Chipka or Chippak , H.; Kathia , Tunna , Nepal; Jali dega, Tel.; Chinna wallur, Tam.; Ukussa, Kurula goya, Cing.; Ting-Kyi, Lepcha; U-cham, Bhot.; Thane, Burm.
Coloration. _ Adult male. Upper plumage ashy grey, generally with a brownish or rufescent collar, which, however, is not always present; quills blackish at the ends, the inner webs except near the tip white or buff, marked with blackish bars; median and outermost tail-feathers not barred or obsoletely barred, the other rectrices with 4 or 5 broadish dark bars, the last subterminal; sides of head and neck paler and more rufescent than crown; chin and throat buff or white, with a more or less distinct median grey stripe, sometimes wanting; breast rufous, varying from rusty to vinous red, with numerous narrow white bars, varying in regularity and distinctness, but never wanting; the red gradually fades on the abdomen, and the vent, under tail-coverts, and thigh-coverts are white or buff ; wing-lining buff.
Females are browner and less grey above than old males, and the rufous of the lower surface is deeper and less rusty red, but the pure grey upper plumage and the rusty red lower surface are, according to Jerdon, not assumed before the 4th or 5th year.
Young birds are brown above, the feathers at first with rufous edges, their white bars conspicuous on the head and nape; all the tail-feathers are barred, the bars on the outer feathers narrower and rather more numerous ; the lower parts are white, with large elongate brown spots, largest on the breast, and there is generally a median brown stripe on the throat.
Bill bluish dusky at the tip; cere bright yellow ; irides yellow, becoming deep orange in old birds; legs and feet yellow.
Length of females about 14; tail 7 ; wing 8.25; tarsus 2 ; bill from gape 0.8: in males the length is about 12.5; wing 7. Ceylon and Southern birds are a little smaller, Burmese and Sind birds larger.
Distribution. Resident throughout India, Burma, and Ceylon, ascending the hills of the Indian Peninsula to their summits, and breeding on the Himalayas up to about 5000 feet. This Hawk ranges westwards into Southern Persia, north (if A. cenchroides be the same) into Central Asia, and eastwards to Siam, Cambodia, and Southern China. At Gilgit, according to Scully, the Shikra is migratory, passing northwards in April, and southwards in September.
The Burmese Shikra is a well-marked race, and has been distinguished as A. poliopsis. It is slightly larger on an average, and the male is paler grey above, without any rufescent collar, with the sides of the head greyer, and the median gular stripe faint or wanting. The bars on the lower plumage of adult males too are deeper rufous and somewhat broader. But all these peculiarities are to be found in some Southern and Western Indian birds, though not often in the same individual. A large pale form from Central Asia, found also in the Punjab, Sind, and Baluchistan, has been called A. cenchroides by Severtzoff. I at one time mistook some Quetta skins collected by Sir O. B. St. John, and belonging to this race, for A. brevipes, Sev., a different species.
Habits, &c. The Shikra is very common and well known in India, and, except in thick forest or in desert, may be met with all over the country. Its general food, as Jerdon says, appears to be lizards, but it frequently seizes small birds, rats, or mice, and sometimes does not disdain a large grasshopper. It has been seen feeding on flying termites or white ants. Its call-note is a double whistle. It is more commonly trained than any other Indian bird of prey, and is thrown from the hand at quails and partridges, or more commonly at crows. According to Jerdon it will attack even young pea-fowl and small herons. It breeds trees from April to June, making a loosely built nest of twigs and sticks lined with grass-roots, and laying usually 3, sometimes 4, smooth, bluish-white, glossless eggs, usually unspotted, very rarely with a few small greyish specks, and measuring about 1.55 by 1.22.