(1774) Butastur teesa (Franklin).
THE WHITE-EYED BUZZARD-EAGLE.
Butastur teesa, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. v, p. 104.
This is one of the most widely spread and best known of all our smaller Indian Raptores, being resident over practically the whole of India from the Himalayas to Travancore, It occurs in the Himalayas, and Ludlow obtained a specimen at Gyantse in Tibet at 13,000 feet, though there is no record of its breeding in the hills. In India it is most common in the drier districts and less common in the wetter. Thus it is very common in Bihar and Western Bengal to North-West India and in Central India and the Deccan, while it is comparatively rare in Eastern Bengal, Assam, Burma and again in the humid country of Malabar. In Burma it is found from the North to Tenasserim hut seems rare everywhere, though Hopwood found it nesting in the lower Chindwin. It is very common in Sind.
These birds breed only in open country, never, so far as is recorded, in forest. The country may be cultivated or waste ground, and Ticehurst records (Ibis, 1923, p. 251) that in Sind he has seen it “well out in the desert where a few trees exist.” The tree it selects may he a single one standing in, or on, the edge of cultivated land, grass lands round villages or even in a garden or compound. One of the favonrite sites is a tree in on orchard or grove, or one of a small group near roadside or village. Marshall found their nests in Saharanpur in Shishum and Kirna-trees ; Hume saya they prefer Mango or thickly foliaged trees. Butter obtained a nest at Deesa on a Neem-tree, growing in a hedge round a yard near the Cavalry Lines. In Sind Eates has taken the nests in White Poplar, Casuarina and Babool-trees.
As a rule it is placed fairly high up in the tree selected, between 20 and 40 feet, but I have records of its being placed in small Acacia trees quite low down, two in Babool-trees in Bihar being within reach of the hand.
The nest is small and very roughly made of sticks and small twigs without a lining of any kind. In size they run from as small as 8 inches in diameter by about 3 or 4 in depth, while the biggest nests probably do not exceed a foot across by less than half that in depth. Of course odds and ends stick out everywhere and make the extreme measurements more, hut the real nest is very small. There is very little depression, the nest being almost a level platform in shape.
The breeding season-lasts from February to April, while a few birds fay in May. Most eggs are laid during April in Bihar, Bengal and most of India, while in Sind February and March are the favourite months.
When the eggs are laid Bingham says “it is not a hard nest to find, for the female keeps uttering a curious mewing cry, beginning at daybreak and lasting, with intervals of rest, through the day.” The usual clutch of eggs is two or three, the former almost as often as the latter, while clutches of four are very rare.
Most eggs are very broad ovals in shape, though Hume says they are occasionally slightly pyriform. The texture, for a Raptore’s egg, is very fine and close, the surface being beautifully smooth, some¬times almost glossy.
In colour they are bluish or greyish-white, the tinge very faint and disappearing in time. The majority are unmarked, but a fair number of eggs are faintly flecked here and there with pale reddish or with sub-shell markings of grey. Anderson obtained three quite well-marked clutches at Futtegarh, and Eates in Sind has been equally lucky, while in Dehra Ismail Khan Pitman took a pair and a single egg which are exceptionally well marked. The former are strongly blotched with light brown, one at the smaller end and one at the higger, while the single egg has handsome deep red-brown blotches at the larger extremity and a few small blotches scattered thinly elsewhere. The inner membrane is a bright pale green.
One hundred eggs average 46.4 x 38.4 mm. ; maxima 49.9 x 39.0 and 47.0 x 39.1 mm. ; minima 43.0 x 35.8 and 43.0 x 35.0 mm, Hume gives a maximum breadth of 41 mm. ; while a pigmy egg in my collection taken by Betham at Ferozepore measures only 37.3 x 29.1 mm.
The female alone incubates but both sexes take part in making the nest. They are very tame birds but not bold, generally making no demonstration when the eggs are taken ; Scrope Doig, however, was obliged to shoot one of a pair of birds who repeatedly stooped at his man when attempting to climb the tree to their nest. This was in Sind.
1774. Butastur teesa
(1774) Butastur teesa (Franklin).