1232. Elanus caeruleus.
The Black-winged Kite.
Falco caeruleus, Desf. & Mem. Acad. Sc. 1787, p. 503, pl. 15. Falco melanopterus, Daud. Traiti, ii, p. 152 (1800). Elanus melanopterus, Jerdon, Madr. Jour. L. S. x, p. 71; Blyth, Cat. p. 18; Horsf. & M. Cat. i, p. 28 ; Jerdon, B. I. i, p. 112; Hume, Rough Notes, p. 338; id. S. F. i, pp. 21, 163: id. N. & E. p. 56; A. Anderson, B. Z. S. 1872, p. 80 ; Adam, S. F. i, p. 369; Butler, S. F. iii, p. 449; Blyth & Wald, Birds Burm. p. 60; Hume, S. I. iv, p. 462; Inglis, S. F. v, p. 16. Elanus caeruleus, Strickland, Orn. Syn. p. 137; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. i, p. 336; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 26; Ball, S. F. vii, p. 200; Cripps, ibid. p. 252; Hume, Cat. no. 69; Davidson, S. F. viii, p. 415; x, p. 290; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 85; Butler, S. F. ix, p. 375; Reid, S. F. x, p. 13; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 205; id. in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 177; Hume, S. F. xi, p. 17; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 59; id. Jour. Bom. N. H. Soc. iii, p. 219; St. John, Ibis, 1889, p. 154.
Kapassi, H.; Masunwa, in Oude ; Chanwa, Nepal.; Adavi Ramadasu, Tel.; Argellur, Yerkli; Ukussa, Cing.
Coloration. Adult. Forehead, anterior lores, a streak over the eye, sides of the head, the whole of the lower parts, and all tail-feathers, except the middle pair and the outer webs of the next two pairs, white; upper parts light ashy grey, the tail-feathers paler; median and smaller upper wing-coverts, a narrow supercilium, and the posterior lores black; primaries grey above, blackish "beneath. In many specimens the fore-neck and flanks, and sometimes more of the lower parts, are pearly grey.
Young birds are brownish ashy above, with pale edges to the feathers; the quills and tail-feathers are tipped white; breast tinged or streaked with fulvous.
Bill black; cere and gape pale yellow; irides crimson in adults, yellow in the young; legs and feet deep yellow; claws black.
Length about 13; tail 5; wing 10.5; tarsus 1.3; mid-toe without claw 1; bill from gape 1.1.
Distribution. Throughout Africa, locally in Southern Europe and in South-western Asia, and in India, Ceylon, and Burma, but not, so far as is known, farther east, nor in Southern Tenasserim. Hume obtained specimens at the Laccadive Islands. In India, from the base of the Himalayas to the extreme South, in Ceylon, and in Arrakan and Pegu, this Kite is pretty generally distributed, but is not often abundant.
Habits, &c. Locally this is a migratory bird, wandering from one place to another with the seasons. It occurs most commonly in well-wooded cultivated districts and in thin jungle, avoiding both open plains and dense forests. It lives chiefly on insects and small mammals, and either watches for its prey from a perch or beats over grass or bushes, sometimes hovering like a Kestrel. It varies much in its time of breeding, eggs having been taken, at one place or another, at all seasons, and it appears sometimes to breed twice in the year. The nest, a loose structure of twigs, as a rule unlined, sometimes lined with grass, is placed on a tree, and contains 3 or 4 eggs, usually densely blotched with brownish red and measuring about 1.53 by 1.21.