1264. Aesalon chicquera.
The Turumti or Red-headed Merlin.
Falco chicquera, Daud. Traite, ii, p. 121 (1800); Blyth, Cat. p. 14 ; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. i, p. 403; Davidson & Wend. S. F. vii, p. 73; Ball, ibid. p. 197; Cripps, ibid. p. 242; Hume, Cat. no. 16; Scully, S. F. viii, p. 222; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 110; Vidal, S. F. ix, p. 29 ; Butter, ibid. p. 370; Hume & Inglisi ibid. p. 242; Reid, S. F. x, p. 4; Hume, ibid. p. 334; Taylor, ibid. p. 454; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 17 ; id. Jour. Bom. N. H. Soc. iii, p. 210; Hume, S. F. xi, p. 4; Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 192. Hypotriorchis chicquera, Gray, Gen. B. i, p. 20; Horsf. & M. Cat. i, p. 23; Jerdon, B. I. i, p. 36; Stoliczka, J. A. S. B. xxxvii, pt. 2, p. 13; xii, pt. 2, p. 230; Butler, S. F. iii, p. 444; Godw. Aust. J. A. S. B. xlv, pt. 2, p. 192. Chicquera typus, Bp. Rev. Mag. Zool. 1854, p. 535; Hume, S. F. i, p. 157 ; Gurney, Ibis, 1882, p. 161. Turumtia chicquera, Blyth, Ibis, 1863, p. 9. Lithofalco chicquera, Blyth, Ibis, 1866, p. 248; Hume, Rough Notes, p. 91; A. Anderson, P. Z. S. 1871, p. 681.
Turumti, Turumtari H.; Chetwa ,Hindi; Jellaganta, Jelgadda, Tel.; Jelkat, Yerkli.
Coloration. Adult. Crown and nape with sides of neck, ear-coverts, and a narrow cheek-stripe chestnut; narrow forehead and lores whitish; a few bristly feathers round the eye black, especially at the origin of the cheek-stripe; upper parts from the neck ashy grey; the scapulars, secondaries, and wing-coverts more or less barred with brown; a little chestnut along the anterior edge of the wing primaries blackish brown, closely barred with white on the inner webs, except at the tips; tail grey with narrow black bars, a very broad black band close to the end, and a white tip ; lower parts white, with a few short longitudinal blackish streaks on the breast and bars on the flanks and abdomen.
With age the black bars on both the upper and lower surface become narrow and tend to disappear. In young birds all the grey feathers of the upper plumage are barred with black, the crown and nape are dusky rufous, with dark mesial lines to the feathers, and the lower parts are tinged rusty. These details are from Jerdon, and precisely agree with those of the young AE. ruficollis, an African species very closely allied to AE. chicquera. Of the Turumti itself, strange to say, there is no young skin in the British Museum, though there must be more than 50 adults.
Bill bluish black, greenish yellow at the base; cere, orbital skin, and legs yellow ; irides rather light brown (Hume).
Length of female about 14; tail 6 ; wing 9 ; tarsus 1.6 ; mid-toe 1.5; bill from gape .9.
Distribution. This Falcon is peculiar to India, being found from the Himalayas to Southern India, and it probably occurs occasionally in Ceylon. It ranges to the Punjab and Sind, and to the eastward as far as Sylhet and Cachar. It has not been observed in Assam, but Hume once saw a single individual in Manipur.
Habits, &c. This pretty little Falcon is not a bird of forests, but is chiefly found in cultivated districts where there are gardens and groves of trees. It lives mainly on small birds, and has been occasionally captured and trained, its principal quarry being the Roller (Coracias indica). The nest is always on a tree and is a neat structure of twigs lined with fibres; 4 eggs are usually laid between January and May, generally about March. The eggs are brownish red mottled and blotched with a darker red, and measure about 1.66 by 1.27.
Chicquera, as Jerdon points out, is a corrupt form of Shikra, the name of Astur badius. Similarly the common Indian name for a Kite, Chil, has been wrongly given to the Crested Serpent-Eagle, Spilornis cheela.