Astur badius, Gm.
23. :- Micronisus badius, Gm. :- Jerdon's Birds of India, Vol. I, p. 49 ; Butler, Guzerat; Stray Feathers, Vol. III, p. 445 ; Deccan and South Mahratta country; Stray Feathers, Vol. IX, p. 371; Murray's Vertebrate Zoology of Sind, p. 72 Swinhoe and Barnes, Central India; Ibis, 1885, p. 56; Hume's Scrap Book, p. 117.
THE SHIKRA, Hin.
Length, 12 to 12.5 ; expanse, 23 ; wing, 6.8 to 7.5; tail, 5.5 to 5.9; bill from gape, 0.78 ; weight, 5 to 6 ozs.
Length, 14 to 15; wing, 8.25; tail, 7; tarsus, 1.9; weight, 8 1/2 to 9 1/2 ozs.
Bill bluish, dusky at tip ; irides pale yellow; cere yellow; legs and feet yellow.
The young bird is dark reddish, or dusky-brown above ; the feathers edged with rufous, most broadly so in the male ; back of the head and nape a good deal variegated with white ; tail light ashy-brown, with six dark bands, beneath white, with a central dark chin line ; the breast and abdomen with large oval brown spots, longer on the breast, rounded on the abdomen ; the thigh-coverts rufescent-white, with smaller spots; under tail-coverts with a few faint stripes. The male has usually fewer spots than the female.
The adult bird is pale ashy-grey above, darkest on the head, and with a dusky-reddish nape, only conspicuous when the head is bent forwards; tail with the two centre, feathers and the two outer ones not barred, the others only barred on their inner webs ; quills blackish-grey, with some dark narrow bands on the inner webs ; beneath white, with a faint chin-stripe, not always present; breast and upper abdomen closely barred with pale rufescent, fawn-colored, transverse marks; the lower abdomen, thigh-coverts, and under tail-coverts pure white; irides deep orange color ; cere bright yellow ; feet dark buff-yellow.
As this plumage is not assumed before the fourth or fifth year, intermediate stages are common, and consist in the upper plumage becoming more uniform ; in the bars of the tail becoming gradually indistinct; and in the longitudinal drops beneath changing to bars, gradually disappearing in some parts.
The Shikra is common throughout the region, frequenting gardens, cultivated ground, and open jungle. It is a permanent resident, breeding during. April and May. It takes a very long time to make its nest, which is generally placed in a fork near the top of a tree; it is composed of twigs and is not very compact, scarcely so large as that of the Turumti. The eggs, three or four in number, are oval in shape and of a pale delicate bluish-white color, indistinctly spotted with very faint grey; the shell is smooth and glossless. They average from l-56 inches in length to 1'21 in breadth.