(1811) Accipiter nisus nisosimilis.
THE ASIATIC SPARROW-HAWK.
Falco nisosimilis Tickell, J. A. S. B., ii, p. 571 (1833) (Borabhum, Bengal). Accipiter nisus. Blanf. & Oates, iii, p. 402 (part.).
Vernacular names. Basha Bashin (Hind.); Wanapa dega (Tel.).
Description. Above slaty-grey, darkest and blackish on the head, palest and purest grey on the rump, wing-coverts and scapulars, the latter with white bases and large white patches which always show more or less; forehead and lores grey; feathers above the eye with white bases, forming a well-defined supercilium; bases of feathers on the nape white, showing through and forming a patch ; wing-quills banded with blackish and with white bases below the notch; tail tipped pale and with four broad dark brown bauds ; most of the feathers above inconspicuously dark-shafted; lower parts white, pale buff or pale rufous, this colour generally stronger in tint on the sides of the breast; chin and throat with narrow rufous shaft-lines, extending on to the breast; breast, flanks, abdomen, vent and thigh-coverts with narrow rufous-brown bars; under wing-coverts and axillaries white with narrow dark brown bars; under tail-coverts white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris golden-yellow or orange, pale yellow in the young; bill slaty-blue with black tip; cere, legs and feet yellow, claws black.
Measurements. wing 204 to 216 mm.; tail 151 to 161 mm.; tarsus about 55 to 57 mm.; culmen 10 to 17 mm. wing 243 to 257 mm.; tail 183 to 207 mm.; tarsus about 61 to 65 mm. ; culmen 18 to 19 mm.
Females only differ in being a less pure grey, more brown above and in being paler below.
Young birds are dark brown above, the feathers edged with rufous ; the white bases to the feathers of the nape and neck are much more conspicuous ; the breast is marked with brown heart-shaped spots of rufous-brown, turning to bars on the abdomen, flanks and thigh-coverts. The tail has five bars.
Distribution. Breeding North and Central Asia to Japan, in Winter South to almost the whole of India, Burma and South China. Kirke-Swann also records two individuals from Egypt. In India it occurs as far South as the Nilgiris but Kelaart's record of Ceylon is doubtful.
Nidification. This Sparrow-Hawk breeds in Manchuria and Eastern Siberia, whence I have a series of eggs taken by Emile Smirnoff. From his description the nests differ in no way from those of the next bird and the eggs also cannot be distinguished from theirs. Twenty eggs average 39.9 x 32.2 mm.: maxima 42.5 x 33.2 and 41.4 x 34.0 mm.; minima 373 x 29.8 mm. The breeding-season seems to be May and June. Both this Sparrow-Hawk and Accipiter g. gularis breed in Japan and records thence are mixed for they both breed in the same months.
Habits. This bird is only a Winter migrant to India and Burma,. arriving in October and leaving in March. Whilst with us it keeps either to forest or to groves and orchards in well-wooded country. In the non-breeding season it is a silent bird and does not attract attention but it is very widely scattered all over India and Burma. Its habits generally are the same as those of the next and better-known bird.