Circus cineraceus

Circus cineraceus, Mont.

52. :- Jerdon's Birds of India, Vol. I, p. 97 ; Butler, Deccan ; Stray Feathers, Vol. IX, p. 374; Murray's Vertebrate Zoology of Sind, p 88 ; Circus pygargus, Lin.; Swinhoe and Barnes, Central India; Ibis, 1885, p. 57 ; Hume's Scrap Book, p. 303.


Length, 16.5 to 17.7 ; expanse, 40 to 43.5 ; wing, 14.5 to 15.3 ; tail; 9.3 to 10.2; tarsus, 2.17 to 23.5; bill from gape, 1 to 1.12.

Length, 18.6 to 19.5 ; expanse, 41.8 to 43.9; wing, 15 to 16 ; tail, 9.87 to 10.5 ; tarsus, 2.28 to 2.46 ; bill from gape, 1.07 to 1.2.

Male : above throat arid breast darkish blue-grey, darkest on the back; the first six quills black, the next one lighter, changing to grey ; secondaries grey, with a black bar; tail grey, the outer two feathers barred on their inner webs with bright rufous, the other three with dusky ; belly, vent, under tail-coverts, and under wing-coverts white, with bold dashes of rich chestnut or reddish-brown.

The female chiefly differs from the female of the last in color, by the lower parts being whiter, and the streaks much larger, and more rufous-brown.

Such is Jerdon's description. To this I add Mr. Hume's description, which is much more detailed and is taken from his " Scrap Book."

Description. :- Legs and feet yellow ; claws black ; irides bright yellow in the adult, sometimes brownish-yellow in the female, almost white in one young one examined; bill black, dusky in the young; cere greenish-yellow, yellower in the young.

Plumage, Adult Male. :- The whole head, chin, threat, neck all round, breast, back, scapulars, wings, (except the first seven primaries which are blackish), and central tail-feathers grey, of different shades; the neck, cheeks, and ear-coverts bluish; crown of the head and occiput (below which there is a white mottled nape-patch, owing to the white bases of the feathers showing through), here and there tinged with rufous brown; the scapulars infuscated and brownish; the back darker and more ashy, and the wings and centre tail-feathers more silvery; the secondaries have a broad, blackish, transverse band across both webs, forming a conspicuous wing-band (not unlike that of the common pigeon G. intermedia), and with traces of another, or in some specimens, two other bands on the inner webs ; the central tail-feathers unbarred, the laterals with four very broad, transverse, dark bars on the inner webs, and traces of the same on the .outer webs of some of the feathers, the grey fading as the feathers recede from the central ones, and to pure white on the exterior ones, and the dark brown bands changing gradually to dull chesnut .on the latter; a broad circle round the eye whitish; the lower parts from the breast downwards, and the whole wing-lining, (except a few of the longer lower-coverts, which are ashy-grey with large white spots), pure white ; the feathers of the abdomen with narrow, rather pale chesnut central streaks ; there are lanceolate chesnut dashes in the wing-lining ; the axillaries are broadly and irregularly barred with blotches, and lower tail and thigh-coverts have the shafts of the same color, a few faint streaks of which are also generally to be seen mingling with' the blue-grey of the breast.

Adult Female. :- Forehead, and a band round the eye, slightly rufous-white ; crown and occiput rufous-brown, streaked with dark hair-brown; a streak from the base of the lower mandible, widening so as to involve the whole ear-coverts, darkish brown, in some very dark; some of the feathers, commonly, very narrowly margined rufous ; back, wings, scapulars, and central tail-feathers dark umber-brown; the quills and central tail-feathers darkest; the lateral tail-feathers paling as they recede from the central ones, which are unbarred, with four or five broad transverse, lighter and generally more rufous-brown bars, often more or less obsolete on the outer webs; the whole of the lower parts are light rufous-buff, with narrow, deeper rufous, shaft stripes ; rump and upper tail-coverts mingled white, rufous-buff, and reddish-brown.

"Young male of the second year killed while undergoing his second moult"

The top of the head, and the feathers round the cheeks, a mixture of brown and rufous; ear-coverts grey; occiput varied with white ; the nape, back, scapulars, tertials, and upper tail-coverts lead-grey ; upper surface of all the tail-feathers, except the two in the middle, barred with shades of brown and rufous; middle tail-feathers, with the outer webs, uniform pearl-grey ; the inner webs with fine dark brown bands on a greyish ground; wing primaries and secondaries blackish-brown; greater wing-coverts dark brown ; lesser wing-coverts lighter brown, varied with rufous and two or three grey feathers; chin, and front of neck, pearl-grey; breast, belly, thighs, and under tail-coverts white, with a longitudinal rufous stripe on the centre of each feather ; under surface of tail-feathers barred with greyish-white and brown ; legs, toes, and claws, as in the adult male.

A young male of the year: a narrow frontal band, a line above, and a patch below and behind the eye, and two broad patches on either side of the nape white, the feathers of the latter with brown shafts ; chin and throat whitish, bristles, at point of chin,
black; the top of the head rusty-rufous ; the feathers with more or less narrow, lanceolate or linear, dark brown shaft stripes; ear-coverts and a line extending to them from the base of the lower mandible dark brown, the feathers mostly narrowly margined with ferruginous; wings, back, and scapulars rich brown of different shades, palest on the upper back ; rump, and lesser -wing-coverts, more umber on the secondaries and longer scapulars, and greyer, except at the extreme tips, on the primaries; all the quills, the primary greater-coverts, back, rump, and scapulars, narrowly but conspicuously margined at the tips with rufous buff, or faintly rufous-white; the lesser and most of the median-coverts more broadly margined with brighter rufous.

The first few primaries silvered on their outer webs towards their bases, and with three or more irregular, dark, transverse bars on the inner webs, (which are mostly brownish-white above the notches), and faint traces of these on the grey-brown, outer wells, above the emarginations ; all the tail-feathers tipped with pale rufous, most broadly on the external feathers ; the central tail-feathers deep brown, with four broad, transverse, greyish-brown bars, greyer at the bases and broader towards the tips; the lateral tail-feathers similar in character, but the grey-brown bars change, as the feathers recede from the central ones, to rufous-grey, rufous, and rufous-white ; and the deep brown interspaces change similarly -to nearly pure cinnamon-rufous; the upper tail-coverts are absolutely pure white in some, in others with very narrow, rufous-brown, shaft stripes. From the throat, the whole lower parts, including the wing-lining, are pure, pale cinnamon-rufous ; some of the feathers of the sides of the breast, with linear, dark-brown shaft stripes, and all the feathers with the shafts slightly deeper colored than the webs.

Montague's Harrier occurs throughput the Deccan, Rajpootana and Sind. I did not meet with it in Guzerat; it is of course a seasonal visitant only.

Handbook to the Birds of the Bombay Presidency
Barnes, Henry Edwin. Handbook to the birds of the Bombay Presidency, 1885.
Title in Book: 
Circus cineraceus
Spp Author: 
Book Author: 
Barnes, H. Edwin
Page No: 
Common name: 
Montagues Harrier
Montagu's Harrier
Circus pygargus
Term name: 

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