(1798) Buteo vulpinus (Gloger).
Buteo vulpinus, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. v, p. 142.
The Desert-Buzzard occurs oven the greater part of Western Asia, ranging through Asia Minor and Palestine to South-East Europe. It extends to North-West India and is the small form which, under sever names, has been recorded as breeding on the North-West frontier and in Kashmir.
They are birds of more or less open country, but build both on trees and, though less often, on ledges of cliffs, or holes in rocks on the faces of precipices.
The accounts of this bird’s breeding are very conflicting. In 1903 Ward took a beautiful clutch of three eggs, which he sent me with the skin, and which I then identified with some doubt, as it was small and very rufous, as an Upland Buzzard, Then in 1908 he again sent me an egg—one of two—and the bird shot off the nest. This was undoubtedly vulpinus, but the eggs were exactly like those previously sent, and closer examination showed the birds to be so likewise, and correctly named vulpinus, or sibiricus as we then called it. In March 1901 Buchanan took two clutches of three eggs each, one at Hassan Abdul and the other near Kohat ; one of these, the first, he attributed to ferox (=rufinus), but the second, after first calling it ferox, he then changed to vulpinus, to which species both the clutches certainly belong.
In addition to these I found in a small collection of eggs I bought at auction from O. K. Tankard a clutch of two eggs marked 27. iv. 92 in Ward’s handwriting, and named Buteo ; to this had been added, in another hand, “ferox,” but these also are undonbtedly vulpinus.
Ward obtained his four clutches of eggs from nests three of which were built on trees and one on a cliff. Of the three on trees one was on quite a small scrubby tree on an open hillside covered with grass. This is described as a large nest of sticks lined with green twigs and green leaves. The other two nests were both on trees at great heights from the ground.
The breeding season on the North-West Frontier appears to be March and April and in Kashmir April and May, one clutch of Ward’s having been taken as late as the 21st June ; these were the eggs recorded as taken at 11,000 feet elevation.
In India two or three eggs only are laid but, in Europe, four are often taken, though three is more usual.
For Buzzards' eggs their small size and rather long oval are striking but, now that it has been possible to arrange a series that may be definitely allocated to this race, the colouring is often seen to be better rather than poorer than in those of the other species. Poorly coloured eggs are of course common, but some and well and a few really handsomely marked. An exceptionally beautiful clutch taken by Buchanan has one egg with a cream ground heavily marked, especially at the small end, with reddish-brown, almost confluent on the smaller half. The other two eggs are white richly blotched with dark reddish-brown. With the exception of this clutch all the others I have seen can be matched by eggs of our other Buzzards,
Eighteen eggs average 57.0 x 43.3 mm. : maxima 59.9 x 47.0 mm. ; minima 52.1 x 42.4 and 53.8 x 40.5 mm.
1798. Buteo vulpinus
(1798) Buteo vulpinus (Gloger).