Buteo ferox, S. G. Gmelin.
45.-Buteo canescens, Hodgs. :- Jerdon's Birds of India, Vol. I, p, 88; Butler, Guzerat; Stray Feathers, Vol. III, p. 447 ; Deccan, Stray Feathers, Vol. IX, p. 374; Murray's Vertebrate Zoology of Sind, p. 85 ; Swinhoe and Barnes, Central India; Ibis, 1885, p. 57; Hume's Scrap Book, p. 274.
THE LONG-LEGGED BUZZARD.
Length, 20.75 to 23.5 ; expanse, 50.25 to 59 ; wing, 16 to 17.6 ; tail, 9.25 to 10.5 ; tarsus, 3.2 to 3.75; bill from gape, 1.8 to 2.
Length, 22.75 to 25 ; expanse, 56.25 to 62; wing, 18.2 to 19.75; tail, 10.18 to 19.75 ; tarsus, 3.2 to 3.8 : bill from gape, 1.9 to 2.08.
Cere greenish-yellow ; irides pale dun; legs pale yellow.
Young: head, neck, throat, breast, and belly white, some of the feathers streaked with brown, and dashed with buff; back and wing-coverts pale yellowish-brown, some of the feathers edged with rufous ; quills dusky-brown, whitish on their inner webs, and the secondaries barred; tail with the outer webs reddish-white, inner webs dirty-whitish, barred with brown.
In. a more advanced state of plumage the head and neck are rufescent-brown, with a whitish eye-streak; back and wing-coverts darker brown, with a tinge of purple in the freshly-moulted bird, and many of the feathers edged with rufous; quills greyish on their outer web, with a dusky tip, and whitish internally, except at the tip, which is black ; tail pale rufous, or rufous-grey, with a darker subterminal band, and some indistinct bars, and ashy-white below; beneath, the throat is white, with dusky streaks, and the rest of the under parts fulvous-white, with dusky and rufous blotches, forming a sort of gorget on the breast and a more or less dark abdominal band ; tibial feathers dusky-rufous.
The adult bird is yellowish-brown above, and on the throat and breast, purest on the head and breast, and many of the feathers, especially of the back, with dark centres, where the lighter tint indeed is nearly lost; quills, with the outer webs, greyish, the inner webs blackish from the tip to the deep sinuosity, white beyond ; wings with a large white patch beneath, formed chiefly by the inner webs of the quills ; tail reddish or cinnamon-grey, indistinctly barred; belly, vent, thigh-coverts, and under tail-coverts deep auburn-brown; the line of demarcation between this and the lighter tint of the breast abrupt and strongly marked.
The plumage of this handsome Buzzard varies considerably in all its different stages, and this has led to its being described under numerous synonyms. It still remains a vexata quaeatio as to which is its adult plumage. The difficulty, as Mr. Hume observes in his Scrap Book, is the changes of the upper and lower surfaces vary in different specimens, some change first on the upper surface others on the lower, so that it is difficult to assign any chronological value to these changes.
The Long-legged Buzzard occurs, as a cold weather visitant, throughout the region with which I am dealing, but is nowhere very common. It feeds on rats, mice and lizards, and occasionally small birds which, however, it always seizes on the ground.