Circus oeruginosus (Linn.), Syst. Nat. i. p. 130 (1766) : Gould, B. of Gt. Brit. i. pls. 24, 25 ; Hewitson, i. p. 44, pl. xvi. fig. 1 ; Newton, i. p. 127 ; Dresser, v. p. 415, pls. 326, 327 ; Sharpe, Cat. B. Br. Mus. i. p. 69 ; Radde. Orn. Caucas, p. 106, Taf. iii. ; Blanf. F. Brit. Ind. Birds, iii. p. 387 ; Saunders, p. 315 ; Lilford, i. p. 67, pls. 34, 35 ; C. rufus (Gmel.), Syst. Nat. i. p. 266 (1788) ; (Naum.), i., p. 378, Taf. 37, 38, fig. 1 ; Gould, B. of. E. pl. 32.
Busard des marais, French ; Aguilucho, Span. ; Milhano, Portug. ; Falco di padule, Ital. ; Rohrweihe, German ; Rietwouw, Dutch ; Rodbrun Kjoerhog, Dan. ; Rostbrun Karrhok, Swed. ; Kamyschevoi Lun, Russ. ; Kamysch-Kara, Tartar ; Hedia, Moor. ; Bouschrada, Arab. ; Kutar, Kulesir, Hindu.
Male ad. (Spain). Crown and nape yellowish white striped with chocolate and blackish brown ; back and scapulars blackish chocolate slightly marked with dark fulvous ; tail ashy grey tipped with yellowish tuff ; primaries blackish brown, the inner ones marked with ashy grey, secondaries and larger wing-coverts dark silvery grey ; smaller coverts blackish chocolate marked with whitish ; chin dirty white ; breast yellowish white marked with reddish brown ; rest of under parts rusty brown striped or marked with darker brown ; bill horn ; legs and cere yellow ; iris lemon yellow. Culmen 1.32, wing 14.8, tail 8.9, tarsus 3.3 inch. The old female is rather larger than the male, has the crown, nape, and chin creamy white, the two former striated with blackish ; back white marked with umber, the rump ochreous ; wings and tail dark brown white with a creamy white margin along the edge of the wing ; throat warm ash-brown ; rest of the under parts dark brown with a white band marked with brown across the breast. The young birds are dark chocolate-brown, the crown, nape, chin, and upper throat warm orange-buff, but they vary a good deal as regards the amount of buff on the head, and as in other Harriers dark blackish varieties occur, one figured by Dr. Radde (l.c.) being all dark brown, the upper parts with rufous margins to the feathers, and the tail grey washed with pale brown.
Hab. Europe ; in Sweden seldom found above 60° N. Lat., and of very rare occurrence in Norway and Finland ; Great Britain ; Africa as far south as the Transvaal ; Asia east as far as China and Japan and throughout India and Ceylon ; in winter south to the Philippines.
Is essentially a marsh-haunting bird, and is generally to be met with in damp swampy places, especially where water-birds breed in numbers. In the northern portions of its range it is a migrant but a resident in the south. As a rule it is a silent bird, but in the breeding season the male may be heard uttering a clear, loud call keew, that of the female being a clear prolonged shrill pee-ep. It feeds on frogs, small snakes, small mammals, young birds, and eggs, and is very destructive to the breeding colonies of water-birds. Being however cowardly and not possessing much power of flight it will not attack any but the smaller or weakly birds, and it is doubtful if it dare even attack a rat. Its nest, which is a carelessly constructed bulky structure of sticks, reeds, and flags, is placed on the ground or on the masses of half floating marsh herbage, and its eggs, 4 to 5, seldom 6 in number, are usually laid in April or May, and are unspotted, greenish or blue-greenish-white in colour, rather roundish in shape, and measure about 1.95 by 1.51.
715. Circus Aeruginosus