Falco cherrug, J. E. Gray in Hardw. Ill. Ind. Zool. ii. pl. 25 (1833-34) ; Blanf. F. Brit. Ind. Birds, iii. p. 420 ; F. sacer, Gmel. Syst. Nat. i¬p. 273 (1788 nec. Forst.) ; Gould, B. of Asia, i. pl 5 ; Dresser, vi. p. 59, pl. 376 ; (Sharpe), Cat. B. Br. Mus. i. p. 417 ; F. lanarius, Pall. Zoogr. Boss. As. i. p. 330 (1811 nec. Gmel.) ; Naum. i. p. 279, Taf. 23 ; Gould, B. of E. i. pl. 20 ; F. cyanopus, Thienem. Rhea, i. p. 62, Taf. 1, 2 (1846).
Faucon sacre, French ; Il sacro, Ital. ; Wurgfalke, German ; Slagfalk, Swed. ; Balabann, Russ. ; Dughan, Turk. ; Uetalgi, Tartar ; Bas, Chark, Pers. ; Saqer-el-hor, Arab. ; Charg female Chargela male Hindu.
Male ad. (S. Russia). Crown and nape white tinged with rufous brown, and striped with blackish brown ; upper parts generally dark earth-brown with pale fulvous margins ; quills dark brown barred with white on the inner web ; tail brown marked with buffy white oval spots, the middle feathers sometimes uniform brown ; sides of head, chin, throat, and breast white, the first sparingly striped, the others with a few spots of blackish brown, moustachial stripe ill defined ; rest of under parts white, more or less striped with elongated spots of blackish brown, sometimes almost un¬marked ; bill bluish horn, paler at the base ; cere and legs yellow ; iris dark brown. Culmen 1.0, wing 14.0, tail 8.0, tarsus 2.35 inch. Female similar but larger. The young bird has the head and nape buffy white closely streaked with blackish brown ; upper parts darker than the adult ; upper tail-coverts with broad dull rufous and buffy white margins ; moustachial stripe well defined ; chin white ; under parts buffy white closely and broadly striped with blackish brown ; cere and legs pale blue-grey ; iris dark brown.
Hab. Eastern and south-eastern Europe, rarely straying west ; not visiting Great Britain ; has once occurred in Scandinavia ; North-east Africa ; Asia minor and Palestine (rare) ; Central Asia and Persia to N.W. India and China.
Is a frequenter of the plains and desert, and preys on lizards, small mammals, and birds. For falconry purposes it is highly esteemed and used to hawk gazelles, hares, bustards, &c. It nests in trees, rarely in rocks, and builds a tolerably well constructed, but not a large, nest of sticks, lined with finer twigs, grass, wool, &c., and in April lays 2 to 4 eggs, some¬what elongated oval in shape, richly marked and blotched with dull or dark red on a white or yellowish white ground, in size averaging 2.10 by 1.62.
762. Falco cherrug