(1774) Butastur teesa.
THE WHITE-EYED BUZZARD-EAGLE.
Circa teesa Frankl,, P. Z. S., p. 115 (1831) (Ganges-Nerbudda). Butastur teesa. Blanf. & Oates, iii, p. 362.
Vernacular names. Tisa (Hind.); Buda-mali Gedda (Tel.); Tellur (Yerkli).
Description. Upper parts rufous-brown to brown, each feather with a black shaft or shaft-stripe ; lores, a patch on either side of the forehead and a nuchal spot white; the nuchal spot often striped or tipped with dark brown; upper tail-coverts and tail always more rufous than the back, the latter with a broad sub¬terminal band of blackish and with narrow bands of black, sometimes obsolete or absent; wing-coverts mottled or indefinitely barred with white; quills brown or rufous-brown edged with grey, black-tipped and with a few narrow black bars on the inner webs, which are mostly white; under aspect of wing almost entirely pure white, the dark bars showing faintly through; chin and throat white with a black median and two side-streaks of blackish; sides of head, neck and breast brown, each feather black-shafted; breast brown with dark shafts and numerous fulvous-white bars, becoming more numerous towards the abdomen and- vent, which are wholly pale fulvous or rufous with narrow bars of a slightly darker tint; axillaries brown and white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris almost white or pale yellow ; brown in young birds; bill black at the tip changing to yellow on the gape, base of lower mandible and cere ; legs and feet dingy orange-yellow.
Measurements, wing 278 to 296 mm.; tail 151 to 169 mm.; tarsus 58 to 61 mm.; culmen 28 to 31 mm. wing 294 to 314 mm.
Young birds have the foreheads and a broad supercilium white or buffy-white, the feathers of the crown and nape brown with broad pale edges ; the feathers of the upper parts are more or less pale-edged, traces of these edges showing on the hind neck and shoulders of otherwise adult birds ; the lower parts vary from buffy-white to pale buff or creamy, the feathers more or less streaked with dark brown, the chin- and cheek-stripes narrow or even wanting.
Distribution. Practically the whole of India from the plains at the foot of the Himalayas to South Travancore. Rare in the wetter and more heavily-forested parts, such as Malabar and Western Bengal. Most common in North-West India to Behar and Eastern Bengal as far South as Central India and the Deccan. It is found throughout North and Western Burma to Tenasserim but is common nowhere.
Nidification. The White-eyed Buzzard-Eagle breeds throughout the plains of India and Northern Burma during March, April and early May ; in Burma March is the favourite month, in India April. The birds build their own nests, generally a small rather poor affair with no real lining, in forks of trees at any height from the ground. They have been taken on small solitary Babool-trees, standing in wide open spaces and so low down that they could be taken by hand. Others are placed 50 feet up in huge trees in the open and others again between 20 and 40 feet up in groves and clumps of trees. The eggs number two or three, very rarely four and occasionally one only. The great majority are pale bluish-white or pure white with no markings at all, a minority are faintly marked with pale grey or pale reddish specks or blotches, whilst a very few, not one in twenty, are comparatively well marked with reddish-brown. Eighty-six eggs average 46.4 x 38.4 mm.: maxima 49.9 X 39.0 and 47.9 x 39.1 mm. Hume gives a maximum breadth of 41.0 mm.; minima 43.0 x 35.8 and 45.0 x 35.0 mm.
Habits. This bird, next to the Kite, is the most familiar of all Indian Raptores, being found in open country all over India, though it is rarer in the wetter districts, such as Eastern Bengal and the Malabar coast. It frequents the open slopes of the hills of Southern India to some height but does not ascend the Himalayas anywhere. It quarters the ground much as a Kestrel does and is very similar to that bird in flight but it generally flies closer to the ground and, if it hovers, this is only for a second or two. It feeds on small snakes, frogs, lizards, mice, shrews, an occasional small bird and any large insect, being very partial to large grasshoppers and locusts, which it seizes on the wing, Its cry varies from a low plaintive mewing call to a loud prolonged squeal. The young are very noisy and both birds, but more especially the female, continue the mewing call constantly during the breeding-season.