(1718) Falco peregrinus calidus.
THE EASTERN PEREGRINE FALCON.
Falco calidus Lath., Ind. Orn., i, p. 41 (1709) (India). Falco peregrinus. Blanf. & Oates, iii, p. 413,
Vernacular names. Bhyri ?, Bhyri Bucha (Hind) ; Bhyri dega (Tel.); Dega (Yerkli).
Description. Head and neck dark slaty, the centres of the feathers blackish ; upper back, scapulars and wing-coverts rather paler grey with black shafts and broad bars of dark, dull brown; rump and upper tail-coverts still paler, the brown bands narrower and showing up more boldly; tail darker again, especially towards the tip, banded with blackish-brown and tipped with white; primaries dark grey, the inner webs barred with mottled rufous and white, these bars becoming more faint on the inner primaries and disappearing on the secondaries, which are narrowly edged with white; cheeks, anterior ear-coverts and a broad line below blackish; lower parts white with more or less of a pinky fulvous tinge on the throat, breast and upper abdomen, and a blue-grey tinge on the lower breast, abdomen, flanks and under tail-coverts; the sides of the neck and the breast are narrowly streaked and the remainder of the underparts narrowly barred with blackish, each bar with a tiny spear-head on the shaft, except in the oldest birds ; axillaries and under wing-coverts white barred with dark brown.
Colours of soft parts. Irides brown or deep hazel; bill bluish-slaty, the base of the lower mandible yellowish ; cere yellow ; legs and feet dull chrome-yellow to almost orange-yellow, claws deep slaty to almost black.
Measurements.— Male. "Wing 297 to 316 mm.; tail 134 to 145 mm.; tarsus about 49 to 51 mm.; culmen about 25 to 26 mm.; mid-toe and claw about 57 to 58 mm.
Female. Wing 344 to 379 mm.; culmen 27 to 30; mid-toe with claw 62 to 70 mm.
Young birds are dark brown above, darkest on the head and edged everywhere with paler rufescent-brown, the edges broadest and most noticeable on the rump and upper tail-coverts; tail dark brown banded with mottled rufous and brown ; whole lower surface pale fulvous-white, the chin and throat immaculate, the rest boldly streaked with brown, the streaks becoming bars on the flanks and thigh-coverts ; on the nape the buff bases and edges to the dark brown feathers show through, forming a faint collar.
Every stage of difference may be found between the most-juvenile and fully adult birds ; the back becomes more slaty-grey at each succeeding moult and the broad streaks on the breast disappear, whilst those on the abdomen, flanks and vent change in character from streaks to bars.
Distribution. Breeding throughout Northern Asia and migrating South in Winter to Malay Peninsula, Burma, India, Eastern Europe and to Egypt and North Africa.
In India it occurs in Winter practically throughout the Empire and has been found as far South as Ceylon, whilst it has also been killed in the Laccadive and Andaman Islands.
Nidification. The Eastern Peregrine Falcon breeds during March and April, placing its nest either in a crevice or on a ledge of some rocky cliff or, where these are not available, on steep river-banks. The eggs, three or four in number, are not distinguishable from those of the Shahin, though almost certainly larger on an average- 21 eggs measured by Jourdain average 53.2 x 41.2 mm. : maxima 56.6 x 42.5 mm.; minima 48.6 X 41.7 and 50.7 X 39.0 mm.
It is said occasionally to make a nest, very scanty and ill put together, on the ground, or to lay its eggs on the ground with no nest at all.
Habits. Similar to those of the Common Peregrine but there is very little on record.