(1792) Circus cyaneus cyaneus.
Falco cyaneus Linn., Syst. Nat., 12th ed. i, p. 126 (1766) (Near London). Circus cyaneus. Blanf. & Oates, iii, p. 384.
Vernacular names. Not distinguished from the preceding two species.
Description.— Adult Male. Very similar to the two preceding species. There is always a nuchal spot of white feathers streaked with dark brown ; the sides of the head, the chin, throat and breast are grey; rump pure pale grey, upper tail-coverts white ; outer tail-feathers white, merely edged with grey and with slight signs of pale rufous-grey bars; the first six primaries are black and the. second to fifth primaries are notched on the outer web, the notch on the second primary being wholly concealed by the coverts.
Colours of soft parts as in the preceding species. Young females have the iris brown.
Measurements. wing 341 to 357 mm.; tail 210 to 221 mm.; tarsus 69 to 74 mm.; culmen 23 to 25 mm. wing 375 to 392 mm.; tail 246 to 255 mm.; tarsus 71 to 78 mm.; culmen 27 to 29 mm.
Female. The rufous markings on the wing-coverts, especially the greater, are better-defined spots than in the species already dealt with ; the upper tail-coverts are pure white ; the nuchal spot very definite; the ruff of buff feathers well developed with dark streaks; the forehead and feathers round the eye are dull browny-white.
Young birds have the whole underparts buff, rufous-buff, or dull pale rufous broadly striated throughout with dark brown; the ruff is well developed, the feathers always streaked.
Distribution. Europe and Northern Asia, migrating in Winter to North Africa, India, Burma and South China.
Nidification. The Hen-Harrier breeds from the end of April to the first week in June, making a nest of grass and scraps of heather well beaten down and protected by heather or some other plant. It is sometimes well lined with hair, feathers or other soft materials but often with nothing but matted grass. It is generally placed in heather, sometimes in grass or reeds about swamps and sometimes in very exposed bare places on hill-sides. The eggs number four to six, rarely seven or eight, and are generally white with no markings. A few, however, are flecked with pale reddish and still fewer with deeper markings of the same. One hundred British eggs average 46.2 x 36.1 mm.: maxima 52.1 x 38.0 and 49.5 x 40.0 mm.; minima 40.0 X 32.0 mm.
Habits. Those of the genus. It arrives in Northern India about the end of October and leaves in March. I have seen this bird carry away dead and wounded Snipe, snatching them up within a few yards of the shooter.