718. PALLID HARRIER.
Circus swainsoni, Smith, S. Afr. Quart. Journ, i. p. 384 (1830) ; Dresser, v. p. 441, pl. 330 ; ? C. macrounis (S. G. Gmel.) N. Com. Petr. xv. p. 439 (1771) ; Sharpe, Cat. B. Br. Mus. i. p. 67 ; Blanf. F. Brit. Ind. Birds, iii. p. 381 ; C. pallidus, Sykes, P.Z S. 1832, p. 80 ; Gould, B. of E. i. pl. 34 ; Naum. xiii. p. 154, Taf. 348.
Busard pale, French ; Albanella chiara, Ital. ; Steppenweihe, German ; Steppehog, Dan. ; Blek Karrhok, Swed. ; Stepnoi Lun, Russ. ; Ach-Asalagan, Tartar. ; Dastmal, Hindu.
Male ad. (India). Upper parts blue-grey, the head paler ; upper tail- coverts white barred with dark blue-grey ; middle tail-feathers blue-grey, the rest white barred with dark blue-grey ; primaries pale at the base becoming blackish towards the tip, the first dark ashy blue ; under parts while, the flanks indistinctly striped ; bill blackish ; cere, iris, and legs yellow. Culmen 1.15, wing 13.8, tail 9.2, tarsus 2.9 inch. The female resembles that of C. cineraceus but is paler and less rufous, and the ruff is more distinctly defined.
Hab. Central, Southern, and Eastern Europe, of rare occur¬rence in Scandinavia, and only twice recorded from Finland ; Africa in winter, south to the Cape ; Asia, throughout India, Ceylon and Burma east to the Yangtse river in China.
In habits it resembles the Hen-Harrier but is less of a marsh-bird and frequents the steppes, fields, etc. ; its flight is slow, a few beats of the wings alternating with a sailing motion, and it usually perches on the ground, on a mound or stone. Its food consists of insects, reptiles, small rodents, and birds, especially when the last are weakly or wounded. Its nest is a depression in the ground lined with grass-bents and leaves, and its eggs, 4 to 5 in number, are deposited in May and are bluish white, roundish in shape, and sometimes marked or spotted with rich deep red. In size they average 1.68 by 1.34.
The chief distinctions between the European Harriers are as follows:—
C. oeruginosus.—The ruff is interrupted in front, and the folded wings do not reach to the end of the tail.
C. cineraceus.—Huff interrupted in front ; first four primaries only emarginate on the outer web, the emargination on the second fully an inch beyond the wing-coverts ; flanks striped with rufous in the adult male.
C. swainsoni.—Ruff complete ; emargination on the second primary close to and almost hidden by the wing-coverts ; the four first primaries only emarginate on the outer web ; upper tail-coverts in the adult male white barred with grey.
C. cyaneus.—First five primaries emarginate on the outer web ; ruff complete and not interrupted ; upper tail-coverts in the adult male white.
718. Circus swainsoni
718. PALLID HARRIER.