(1745) Cerchneis naumanni pekinensis.
THE .CHINESE LESSER KESTREL.
Falco cenchris var. pekinensis Swinh., P. Z. S., 1870, p. 422 (Pekin). Tinnunculus cenchris. Blanf. & Oates, iii, p. 430.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description.— Adult male. Lores and feathers next the bill rufous ; upper part and sides of head and neck, lower back, rump, upper tail-coverts and all but the innermost wing-coverts ashy-grey ; the cheeks are generally darker and the ear-coverts streaked with whitish; back, scapulars and innermost wing-coverts brick-red, the outer wing-coverts occasionally having a little red on the outer edges ; tail pale grey with a broad subterminal black band and a white tip; lower plumage deep rufous, palest on the chin, throat, abdomen and under tail-coverts; younger birds have numerous round black spots on breast and flanks which gradually disappear with advancing age.
Colours of soft parts. Iris deep brown ; bill bluish-slate, black at the tip, paler and often yellowish at the base; cere bright dark yellow : legs horny-yellow to bright yellow, sometimes tinged orange; claws whitish or yellowish-horny.
Measurements. Wing 222 to 244 mm.; tail 142 to 156 mm.; tarsus about 32 to 35 mm.; culmen 16 to 17 mm.
Female. Bump, upper tail-coverts and occasionally even lower back grey ; remainder of upper plumage and wing-coverts rufous, streaked with black on the head, nape and neck, barred with black elsewhere ; tail pale rufous, tinged grey, barred with black and with a broad subterminal band of black and narrow white tip; the central tail-feathers darkest and the outermost palest; greater wing-coverts and quills dark brown barred and notched internally with rufous ; lower plumage rufous, palest on throat and abdomen, streaked and spotted with black.
Measurements. Wing 239 to 246 mm.; culmen 16 to 17 mm.
Young males are like the females but generally tinged with grey on the head and more grey on the rail.
Distribution, Breeding North China, Manchuria and probably East Central Asia. In Winter migrating to India. The exact extent of this bird's breeding-haunts and migration are difficult to decide. A bird from Sikkim (Gammie) in the British Museum is a very typical pale female and it seems hardly possible to retain it with the Eastern race and, again, two males, one from Dinapore and one from near Lucknow, are intermediate and might quite correctly be placed with either race. On the other hand, two specimens from Palestine are without doubt of the Eastern race, with very dark under plumage.
Nidification. The only eggs I have seen of this race is a clutch of five from Fort Naryn, Turkestan. These are just like those of the typical race, small richly-coloured Kestrels' eggs. They were obtained on the 27th May and were said to have been from a nest, one of a colony breeding in an old wall. They measure 36.6 x 28.8 mm.
Habits. This little Kestrel is a bird of very sociable habits, constantly associating in flocks, often of considerable size and migrating in very large numbers. In flight, voice, etc., they closely resemble the Common Kestrel but their food is said to be more exclusively insectivorous.