Falco perigrinator, Sund.
9. :- Jerdon's Birds of India, Vol. I, p. 25 ; Butler, Guzerat; Stray Feathers,. Vol. III, p. 443; Deccan and South Mahratta country; Stray Feathers, Vol. IX, p. 370; Swinhoe and Barnes, Central India; Ibis, 1885, p. 55; Hume's Scrap Book, p. 55,
THE SHAHEEN FALCON. Shahin, Hin.
Length, 14.87; wing, 11.49 ; tail, 6 ; tarsus, 1.85; bill from gape, 1.1.
Length, 18 ; wing, 13.5 ; tail, 6.25.
Bill bluish, black at tip ; irides brown ; cere, orbits, legs and feet yellow ; claws, black.
Young bird with the upper parts and cheek-stripe very dark cinereous, or dusky-blackish, darkest on the head, hind-neck and cheek-stripe, most of the feathers narrowly edged with rufous, those of the back and rump more broadly so; occasionally the forehead is somewhat rufous, and there is always a patch on the nape, where it forms a sort of crucial mark ; tail paler than the rest of the body, faintly barred with rufous, and tipped with the same ; chin and throat pale rufous-yellow, almost white in some, birds and unspotted ; cheeks the same, with narrow dark stripes; the rest of the body beneath bright rufous or chesnut, with longitudinal dark-brown stripes on the lower breast and the middle of the abdomen ; oblong spots on the sides, and arrow-shaped markings on the lower abdomen, vent and under tail-coverts ; under wing-coverts rufous, with dark brown bars; the quills barred with rufous on their inner webs.
The old bird has the head, nape, and cheek-stripe almost black; back and upper parts slaty, light on the rump, and almost without any markings ; chin, throat, and upper breast white ; the rest of the plumage beneath rufous or chesnut, almost unspotted.
The changes of plumage from the young bird consists in the head, gradually becoming darker; the back (and the rump more especially) becoming lighter and more slaty-blue, and in the markings of the lower surface gradually disappearing from the crop downwards with each successive moult. Individuals vary a good deal in the amount of white on the chin and throat, and in its intensity; in some it is well marked, in others always a creamy or rufous-white.
The Shaheen Falcon occurs sparingly throughout the country, with the exception of Sind, from whence it has not yet been recorded. Dr. Jerdon says that it breeds on inaccessible cliffs, and that he has seen three eyries. One, at the large waterfall in Mhow, is within our district, and I have myself seen, during the cold season of 1881, a pair of Shaheens frequenting this spot. Major Butler had reason to believe that a pair bred annually at Khandalla.