1237. Circus aeruginosus.
Falco aeruginosus, Linn. Syst. Nat. i, p. 130 (1766). Circus aeruginosus, Blyth, Cat. p. 19; Horsf. & M. Cat. i, p. 27; Jerdon, B. I. i, p. 99; Hume, Rough Notes, p. 314; id. S. F. i, p. 160 ; ii, p. 150 ; xi, p. 14 ; id. Cat. n. 54 ; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. i, p. 69; Gurney, Ms, 1875, p. 223; Blyth & Wald. Birds Burm. p. 61; Butler, S. F. iii, p. 447; v, p. 226; ix, p. 374; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 22 ; Ball, S. F. vii, p. 200; Cripps, ibid. p. 250; Scully, S. F. viii, p. 226 ; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 5 ; Biddulph, Ibis, 1881, p. 43; Scully, ibid. p. 422; Vidal, S. F. ix, p. 34; Reid, S. F. x, p. 11; Oates, B. B. p. 176; id. in Hume's N. 8; E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 117 ; Barnes, Birds Bom. p, 62.
Kutar, Kulesir, H.; Mat-chil, B.; Safed Sira, Tika Bauri, Mussalmans of Bengal; Kuralagoya, Cing.; Prandu, Tam. (Ceylon).
Coloration. Adult male. Head, neck, and breast buff or pale rufous, with dark brown shaft-stripes, broader on the breast; back and most of the wing-coverts dark brown; scapulars still darker, sometimes grey towards the base; smallest coverts along the forearm whitish, with dark brown shafts; outer greater coverts, primary-coverts, and all quills except first 6 primaries dark silvery grey, remaining coverts and very often the tertiaries dark brown; first 6 primaries black with the basal portion white; upper tail-coverts white, with rufous and brown mixed in various ways ; tail grey above, isabelline below; abdomen and lower tail-coverts ferruginous brown, more or less striped darker.
Females are dark brown except the crown, nape, chin, and more or less of the throat, which are buff with brown stripes. There is sometimes a patch of buff on the breast, the wing-coverts and back have buff edges, and the upper tail-coverts are rufous.
The young of both sexes resemble the female, except that the buff on the head is sometimes unstreaked and more limited in extent, being confined in some cases to a nuchal patch or even wanting altogether.
Bill black; cere and base of bill greenish yellow; iris yellow, brownish yellow in females and young; legs and feet rich yellow (Hume).
Length of males 21; tail 9.5 ; wing 16 ; tarsus 3.4: length of females 22.5 ; tail 9.*75 ; wing 16.5 ; tarsus 3.0.
Distribution. Common in suitable localities throughout India, Ceylon, and Burma from September or sometimes earlier, till April or May. Beyond Indian limits the Marsh-Harrier ranges over the greater part of Asia, Europe, and Africa.
Habits, &c. The Marsh-Harrier is commonly found about swampy plains or on the edges of large pieces of water, sometimes it may be met with hunting over dry grass plains. Though a more powerful bird its movements are very similar to those of the smaller Harriers, but it occasionally flies at considerable elevations like a Buzzard. It lives on frogs, fish, insects, small or weakly birds, and eggs, and often carries off wounded snipe or teal, or makes a meal off a wounded duck that is too heavy for it to carry away. This bird, though migratory as a rule, appears occasionally to breed in India: eggs believed to belong to this species were obtained by Mr. Rhodes Morgan in the Kurnool district, and other writers have noticed the bird in Northern India in the hot season and rains. Like other Harriers, it makes its nest of grass or straw on the ground or amongst reeds, and lays 4 or 5 eggs, which are either pure white or slightly spotted and measure about 2 by 1.5 inches.