(1720) Falco peregrinoides babylonicus.
THE RED-CAPPED FALCON.
Falco babylonicus Gurney, Ibis, 1861, p. 218 (Oudh). Falco barbarus. Blanf. & Oates, iii, p. 417,
Vernacular names. Shahin, Safed Shahin (Hind.); Lal-sir Shahin (Hind., Punjab).
Description. Lores and forehead pale rufous, the latter shading into ashy-brown on the hind crown and nape, each feather with a blackish shaft-line; a broad nuchal collar rufous, more or less mottled with brown, especially in the centre; upper parts ashy-grey barred with dark brown, this colour dominating the upper back and lesser wing-coverts but gradually becoming fainter and more narrow posteriorly, the longest upper tail-coverts being almost pure pale grey in very old birds ; tail ashy-grey tipped with pale rufous and barred with dark brown, the bars darkest and broadest at the tip, palest at the base; primaries dark brown barred with pale rufous on the inner webs when concealed; secondaries like the scapulars and wing-coverts; feathers round the eye, cheeks, a few streaks on the ear-coverts and a broad moustachial streak black; chin and throat white to pale rufous deepening gradually towards the vent; lower breast to under tail coverts narrowly barred with blackish bars obsoletely edged with grey; in old birds the bars on the centre of the breast and abdomen almost disappear and even those on the flanks are greatly reduced.
Colours of soft parts. Iris deep brown; bill slaty-blue, the tip almost black, base sometimes yellowish; cere, orbital skin and gape bright yellow; legs and feet bright yellow to deep yellow, claws black.
Measurements. wing 273 to 284 mm.; tail 126 to 135 mm.; tarsus 45 to 46 mm.; culmen 23 to 26 mm.; , wing 320 to 338 mm.; tail 151 to 158 mm.; tarsus 53 to 55 mm.; culmen 26 to 28 mm.
Young birds have the upper parts and wings dark brown, each feather broadly edged with pale rufous and those of the scapulars and greater coverts with rufous spots or broken bars on either web ; upper tail-coverts and tail barred rufous and brown; a broad rufous nuchal collar much mixed with brown; black on face as in the adult; lower parts pale to deep rufous with broad streaks of dark brown on all but the chin and throat.
Distribution. West and Central Asia through Mesopotamia and Persia to Afghanistan and Baluchistan. Common in India in the North-West as far East as the United Provinces and Nepal, though Hodgson's specimens from the latter country may have been tame. South it has occurred as far as Uaipur. Col. A. C. Butler says that he shot one bird at Mt. Aboo, as well as many in Sind.
Nidification. Lieut, (now Col.) Phillott took two young from an eyrie in the Gumal Pass, at about 2,000 feet, near Dehra Ismail Khan; Delme Radcliffe informed Hume that they bred in some numbers in the hills surrounding Kalabagh and many in and about the Khyber Pass and in Afghanistan. Beyond this I can find nothing authentic about their breeding within our limits.
Habits. Very similar to those of the Shahin but whereas that bird prefers well-wooded, well-watered country, this Falcon is essentially one of barren rocky hills and desert country. It is a bold, powerful bird and is used in Falconry for the pursuit of partridges, florikin and especially wild duck. Their cry is said to be the same loud scream as that of the Peregrine Falcon.