1216. Circaetus gallicus.
The Short-toed Eagle.
Falco gallicus, Gmel. Syst. Nat. i, p. 259 (1788). Circaetus gallicus, Blyth,Cat.i, p. 19; Horsf. & M. Cat. i,p. 51; Jerdon, B. L i, p. 76; Hume, Rough Notes, p. 217; id. N. & E. p. 39; McMaster, J. A. S. B. xl, pt. 2, p. 207; A. Anderson, P. Z. S. 1872, p. 77; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. i, p. 280; Dresser, Birds Eur. v, p. 663, pls. 349, 350; Butler, S. F. iii, p. 446; v, p. 217; ix, p. 373 ; Fairbank, S. F. iv. p. 253; Gurney, His, 1878, p. 146; Davidson & Wenden, S. F. vii, p. 74 ; Ball, ibid. p. 199; Doig, ibid. p. 503; Hume, Cat. no. 38; Reid, S. F. x, p. 8 ; Davidson, ibid. p. 288; Taylor, ibid. p. 455; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 36; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 150.
The Common Serpent Eagle, Jerdon ; Sampmar, H.; Sapmaril, Beng.; Malpatar, Can.; Pamula gedda, Tel.; Pambu prandu, Tam.; Rawal, Wagri; Kondatele, Yerkli.
Coloration. Adult. Forehead, lores, cheeks, and chin whitish, with black bristles ; eyelids covered with white down; ear-coverts brown with fine black lines ; upper parts generally brown; shafts on head, back, and wing-coverts blackish; longer scapulars, primary and some secondary quills blackish brown outside, the quills white inside except at the tip and the primaries for some distance up each border; all quills except first primaries with dark cross-bands ; tail brown above, white-tipped, whitish below, with dark cross-bands, generally 4 in number, the first concealed by the coverts; the inner webs of all rectrices except the middle pair partly white ; chin, throat, and upper breast brown like the back, with dark shafts, some white at the base of the feathers generally showing; lower breast, abdomen, and lower tail-coverts white, with a few brown subdistant spots or bars; lower wing-coverts and axillaries barred brown and white.
In young birds the upper parts are paler; the head whitish with dark shafts, and the white bases of the feathers conspicuous ; lower parts white, with brown shaft-streaks on chin, throat, and upper breast, and a few scattered spots of light brown or rufous on the lower breast and abdomen. Birds of the second year have the upper parts like adults, broad brown stripes on the throat and breast, and more numerous brown spots than the nestlings on the abdomen.
Bill pale greyish blue, tip blackish; cere whitish ; irides bright orange-yellow; legs and feet pale earthy greyish brown (Hume).
Length of a male 26; tail 11.5 ; wing 21: of a female—length 28; tail 13; wing 22 ; tarsus 3.75; bill from gape 2.3.
Distribution. Central and Southern Europe, Northern Africa, Central and South-western Asia, extending east to Northern .China, and all over India in suitable tracts from the base of the Himalayas and from Sind to Lower Bengal, but not in Ceylon nor the countries east of the Bay of Bengal. A resident species.
Habits, &c. The Short-toed Eagle is chiefly found in open country and cultivated ground, and is sometimes seen perched on a tree, but more frequently circling in the air or beating over the ground and bushes like a Harrier. Both Jerdon and Hume notice its habit of hovering like a Kestrel, and dropping softly on its prey, not with a rush. It feeds chiefly on snakes, lizards, and frogs, but will eat rats, crabs, or large insects. It breeds on trees (very rarely on cliffs), and lays a single egg between January and May, in a loosely constructed nest of sticks, sometimes lined with grass or green leaves. The egg is a broad oval, bluish white, without spots, and measures about 2.9 by 2.3.