1266. Tinnunculus cenchris.
The Lesser Kestrel.
Falco cenchris, Naumann, Vog. Deutschl. i, p. 318, pl. 29 (1822). Falco tinnunculoides, Temm. Man. d'Orn. & ed. i, p. 31 (1820). Tinnunculus cenchris, Blyth, Cat. p. 16; Horsf. & M. Cat. i, p. 14; Salvin, Ibis, 1874, p. 361 note ; Dresser, Ibis, 1875, p. 515; Gurney, Ibis, 1881, p. 470. Erythropus cenchris, Jerdon, B. I. i, p. 40; id. Ibis, 1871, p. 242; Hume, Rough Notes, p. 103; Fairbank, S. F. iv, p. 252. Tichornis pekinensis, Swinhoe, P. Z. S. 1871, p. 341. Cerchneis naumanni, Sharpe, Cat. B. M. i, p. 435; Davidson 8; Wend. S. F. vii, p. 73; Hume, S. F. vii, p. 331; id. Cat. no. 18; Butler, S. F. ix, p. 371; Macgregor, S. F. x, p. 435; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 19. Cerchneis pekinensis, Sharpe, Cat. B. M. i, p. 437 ; Hume, S. F. vii, p. 332 ; id. Cat. no. 18 bis ; Hume & Inglis, S. F. ix, p. 242 ; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 20; Hume, S. F. xi, p. 4. Erythropus pekinensis, A. Anderson, S. F. iii, p. 384; Godw.-Aust. J. A. S. B. xiv, pt. 2, p. 192. Tinnunculus pekinensis, Brooks, J. A. S. B. xliii, pt. 2, p. 239; Hume & Inglis, S. F. v, p. 5. Cerchneis inglisi, Hume, S. F. v, p. 5 (1877); id. Cat. no. 18 ter.
Coloration. Adult male. Crown, nape, sides of head and neck, lower back, rump, and upper tail-coverts, together with the greater and median and sometimes parts of the smaller wing-coverts, ashy grey; ear-coverts whitish; back, scapulars, and a varying proportion of the smaller and median wing-coverts brick-red with a vinous, tinge; quills black, their inner webs except near the tip white, as is the wing-lining; tail above grey like the rump, with a broad black subterminal band and a white tip, whitish beneath ; lower surface of body pale to deep rufous, with small rounded black spots on the breast and flanks, these disappear gradually with age.
Female and young male similar to those of T. alaudarius, but easily distinguished by their pale whitish claws. The tail in young males becomes grey by moult before the head or wing-coverts assume the ashy colour.
Bill bluish horny, paler at the base; cere dark yellow, irides deep brown; legs and feet bright yellow, sometimes with an orange tinge ; claws whitish or yellowish horny.
Length about 13 ; tail 5.75 ; wing 9 ; tarsus 1.2; mid-toe without claw .9; bill from gape .8. There appears to be no constant difference between the sexes in size.
The Chinese and Indian bird has been separated as T. pekinensis on account of having the wing-coverts chiefly grey instead of red. Gurney has, however, shown that the difference is not constant.
Dresser has clearly proved that the name naumanni has no claim to priority over cenchris.
Distribution. A migratory bird, passing the summer and breeding in Southern Europe, Western Asia, Persia, and China, and visiting Africa and India in the cold season. Blyth, however, said that it was met with in Bengal in the monsoon (probably September), and Jerdon that he found it breeding on the Nilgiris in May and June. Hume suspects that the Common Kestrel was mistaken for this species in the latter case. T. cenchris has been met with in many parts of India and as far East as Cachar and the Naga hills, but it has not yet been obtained in Burma nor has it been observed in Ceylon.
Habits, &c. Very similar to those of the Common Kestrel, but this species is more gregarious and more insectivorous. It has not been observed to nest in India with the exception of the doubtful case above mentioned.