(1822) Baza leuphotes leuphotes.
THE INDIAN BLACK-CRESTED BAZA.
Falco leuphotes Dumont, Diet. Sci. Nat., xvii, p: 217 (1820) (Pondicherry)Baza lophotes. Blanf. & Oates, iii, p. 409 (part.).
Vernacular names, Dao-kwa Daoling (Cachari).
Description. Whole head and neck, back, rump, upper tail-coverts and tail black;, outermost tail-feathers narrowly tipped white, feathers of ba,ck with broad white bases, showing through in places ; scapulars black with deep chestnut bands and most of the bases white, the latter showing in bold patches ; wing-coverts black; primaries black with some chestnut oh the bases of the outer webs and some of the inner ones, secondaries black, the inner marked with chestnut and white like the scapulars ; below the fore-neck is a broad white band succeeded on the lower breast by a wide chestnut band, sometimes blackish next the white breast; centre of abdomen, vent and under tail-coverts black ; remaining lower parts fulvous banded with chestnut, these bands decreasing and sometimes absent posteriorly, greater under wing-coverts, under aspect of tail and much of the under aspect of the wing grey ; remaining under wing-coverts and axillaries black.
Colours of soft parts. Iris purple-brown or crimson-brown; bill deep slaty- or horny-plumbeous, upper mandible tipped black, lower whitish ; cere plumbeous-blue; legs and feet dull plumbeous to plumbeous-blue, claws horny-brown.
Measurements. Wing 227 to 243 mm.; tail 130 to 145 mm.; tarsus 26 to 27 mm.; culmen 20 to 22 mm.
Young birds not known, the differences to the adult generally given being geographical, not of age.
Distribution. Nepal Terai, Sikkim and Eastern Bengal to Eastern Assam, North of the Brahmapootra; Travancore and Ceylon.
Nidification. The Black-crested Baza breeds from April to June in Northern India and in February, March and April in Travancore, whilst Stewart also took one nest with eggs on the 4th of July in that Province. The nest, which is placed on either small saplings or lofty trees, is well and compactly made of small twigs lined with grass or fibre, with an over-layer of green leaves. The tree selected seems to be always one in deep forest and, in preference, one near water. The eggs, two or three in number, are grey-white, generally much stained with tan-yellow. In shape they are broad obtuse ovals and twenty-four average 37.4 x 31.1 mm.,: maxima 46.0 x 31.0 and 39.1 x 32.1 mm.; minima 34.9 x 29.5 and 36.5 x 28.9 mm.
Habits. This beautiful Raptore is a forest bird but likes best forests with wide streams running through them or with broad glades and casual open spaces. They were not uncommon in Upper Assam and could often be seen in small parties of from three to five, sailing round in small circles, just over the tree-tops, every now and then flapping along like a party of Crows. Their movements are very leisurely but they are generally shy birds and difficult to approach within shot, though occasionally they seem very obtuse and lazy. This, however, is only when the sun is hot and glaring, for they are very crepuscular in their habits as their beautiful lustrous eyes would indicate. They live- principally on insects—locusts, grasshoppers, Cicadae and termites especially—but they also sometimes eat bats, mice, shrews, lizards and tree-frogs; Their1 cry is a quivering plaintive' scream, like the softened squeal of the Kite and is uttered both on the wing and when seated.