1241. Buteo desertorum.
The Common Buzzard.
Falco buteo, Linn. Syst. Nat. i, p. 127 (1766). Falco desertorum, Daud. Traite, ii, p. 162 (1800). Buteo vulgaris, Leach, Syst. Cat. Mam. Birds B. M. p. 10 (1816); Blyth, Cat. p. 29; Jerdon, B. I. i, p. 87 ; iii, p. 869; Blyth, Ibis, 1866, p. 244; Hume, Rough Notes, p. 261; Jerdon, His, 1871, p. 337 ; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. i, p. 186; Reid, S. F. x, p. 450. Buteo desertorum, Vieill. Nouv. Diet. d'Hist. Nat. iv, p. 478 (1816); Gurney, Ibis, 1862, p. 362; Hume, Rough Notes, p. 268, partim ; Jerdon, Ibis, 1871, p. 338; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. i, p. 179 ; Hume, S. F. x, p. 159; Davison, ibid. p. 338. Buteo plumipes, Hodgson, P. Z. S. 1845, p. 37 ; Blyth, J. A. S. B. xv, p. 2 ; Jerdon, B. I. i, p. 91; Blyth, Ibis, 1863, p. 21; 1866, p. 245 ; Hume, Rough Notes, p. 285; Jerdon, His, 1871, p. 340; Blanford, J. A. S. B. xii, pt. 2, p. 41; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. i, p. 180, pl. vii, fig. 1; Hume, S. F. iv, p. 358 ; v, p. 347 ; xi, p. 12; id. Cat. no. 47; Gurney, Ibis, 1876, p. 369; id. S. F. v, p. 65: Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 18; Scully, S. F, viii, p. 225; Legqe, Birds Ceyl. p. 31; Biddulph, Ibis, 1881, p. 42; Scully, ibid. p. 421; Reid, S. F. x, p. 10; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 184. Buteo rufiventer, Jerdon, Madr. Jour. L. S. xiii, p. 165 (1844); id. Ill. Ind. Orn. pi. 27. Falco buteo japonicus, Temm. & Scat. Faun. Jap., Aves, p. 16, pls. vi, vi 6 (1845-50). Buteo japonicus, Jerdon, Ibis, 1871, p. 337; Hume, S. F. iii, p. 30.
The Common Buzzard and The Harrier Buzzard, Jerdon; Dang-pang-ti-ong; Pang-ti-ong-nok, Lepcha.
Coloration variable. The upper plumage is brown, paler or darker, the feathers more or less dark-shafted and, except on the lower back, generally tipped or edged with rufous, especially on the crown, nape, and some of the wing-coverts; the white bases of the feathers on the head and nape are less conspicuous in general than in B. ferox; sides of head paler than crown, usually more or less streaked brown, the streaks generally forming a dark or blackish moustachial stripe from the gape, and frequently another streak running back from the eye; primary-quills with long dark brown or blackish ends, all the remainder white beneath the wing, brown on the outer web above, rufous or white on the inner and more or less barred and mottled; secondaries chiefly brown outside, inner webs partly white or rufous, whitish inside, and with dark cross-bands ; tail brown or sometimes rufous above, whitish below, more or less distinctly barred, the bars variable in number and breadth, the last generally but not always broadest. Lower parts white or buff or (rarely) rufous, the throat with dark streaks, and the breast and abdomen somewhat irregularly spotted or marked with brown; the flanks and thigh-coverts and sometimes the abdomen all brown, or the two latter brown with more or less indistinct white or buff bars.
Typical B. plumipes is dark smoky or chocolate-brown throughout, except the bases o£ the quills, which are white or whity-brown mottled and barred darker, and the tail, which is banded with lighter brown. There are also in some skins a few partly concealed white spots on the feathers of the abdomen. Some specimens have the head, neck, and breast rufous-brown, and some are intermediate in colour between the fuliginous phase and the ordinary colouring.
Bill black, bluish grey towards the base; cere yellow; irides brown; legs and feet yellow; the tarsus feathered in front from halfway down or rather less to two-thirds, generally scutellate in front below the feathering, but occasionally reticulate.
Length of female about 20; tail 9; wing 15.5; tarsus 2.8; mid-toe without claw 1.5; bill from gape 1.47: males are less, wing 14.5.
As a rule Eastern Asiatic and Himalayan birds (B. plumipes or japonicus) are distinguished from European (B. vulgaris) by having the tarsus feathered farther down in front, and often by being more rufous; whilst African specimens (B. desertorum) are smaller and on an average decidedly more rufous. The feathering of the tarsus, however, was shown by Hume to be very variable; Coloration in these Buzzards affords no constant distinction; and some Southern Indian birds are even smaller than African, as Hume has shown, and have a very naked tarsus. In fact there is no distinct character by which B. vulgaris, B. desertorum, and B. plumipes can be distinguished ; they are mere races imperfectly differentiated, and all three are represented by typical examples amongst Indian collections. I do not think they should be regarded as separate species.
Distribution. The greater part of Europe, Asia, and Africa. This Buzzard is found throughout the Himalayas, and in the Nilgiris and other high ranges of Southern India ; it is probably resident on the Himalayas, but, so far as is known, only a cold weather visitor to the Peninsula of India. In winter it has occasionally been met with in Ceylon, and also at Thayet Myo in Pegu and at Thatone in Tenasserim.
Habits, &c. Very similar to those of B. ferox, except that the Common Buzzard is chiefly found in the open parts of woodland hilly countries. The nest has not been taken within Indian limits; both nest and eggs are very similar to those of B. ferox.