1238. Circus spilonotus.
The Eastern Marsh-Harrier.
Circus spilonotus, Kaup in Jardine's Contr. Orn. 1850, p. 59; Swinhoe, Ibis, 1863, p. 213, pl. v; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. i, p. 58; id. Ibis, 1876, p. 30; Gurney, Ibis, 1875, p. 225 ; Hume, S. F. xi, p. 14.
Coloration. Adult male. Very like old females of C. melanoleucus ; above blackish brown, the feathers of the head and neck with broad white or rufous edges ; ruff indistinct; back-feathers and wing-coverts with irregular grey or rufescent white spots and patches ; the smaller coverts along the forearm white, sometimes with dark shaft-stripes; primary-coverts and outer surface of secondaries grey, terminal portion of primaries blackish, bases of all quills white; upper tail-coverts white, with grey or brown bars ; tail grey above, whitish below, unbarred ; lower parts white with blackish shaft-stripes, broad on the throat and upper breast, narrow or wanting on the abdomen.
Adult female. Brown above, the feathers throughout with pale rufous edges ; tail-coverts white and rufous; tail with about six dark cross-bands, which disappear in old individuals ; lower parts buff, with broad rufous-brown shaft-stripes. The quills are dark brown but become greyish in old birds.
Young birds so closely resemble those of C. aeruginosus as to be indistinguishable at times. The pale head and neck-feathers are always striated in C. spilonotus, but the body, wings, and tail are uniformly brown or variegated with buff on the wing-coverts, back, and breast. Generally, though not invariably, traces of bars will be found on some of the tail-feathers of C. spilonotus, but this occasionally happens in C. aeruginosus also.
Length of male 20 ; tail 9.25; wing 15.5; tarsus 3.5: tail of female 10 ; wing 16.5 ; tarsus 3.7.
Distribution. Southern China, extending far inland, it is said, even to Dauria, also the Philippines, Malay Peninsula, and Borneo. A young bird obtained by Capt. Wardlaw Earn say at Toungngoo was referred to this species by Mr. Gurney, but on comparing it with young birds of both this Harrier and C. melanoleucus, I am inclined to assign it to the latter. Hume was convinced he saw C. spilonotus in Manipur, and I have very little doubt he was right. Latterly Mr. T. A. Hauxwell has shot a fine adult male near Moulmein on the Attaran, and has been so good as to send it to me for examination.
Habits, &c. Similar to those of C. aeruginosus, but more kite-like.