No. 14. Hypotriorchis Severus, Horsf.
The Indian Hobby.
That this bird breeds in India, there can, I think, be little doubt. It is in Southern, or South Eastern Asia, the local representative of the preceding species, and not having been observed north of the Himalayahs, must of necessity breed somewhere within our limits. As yet, I have been unable to meet with any account of its nidification. Dr. Jerdon remarks, that it is said to breed on trees, and this is nearly all that I know about the matter.
A fine male, shot at Barrackpore, had the wing, 8.75 ; tail, 4.62. The upper plumage, deep brown, not a trace of slaty, but faint traces of a rufous half collar at the back of the neck. All the lateral tail feathers, with rufous bars, on the inner webs, extending partially on to the outer ones, and all, but centre feathers, tipped with rufous white, chin and throat rusty white; rest of lower parts, deep rusty, except feathers of the lower abdomen, vent, and under tail coverts, which are paler, and yellower. Breast, abdomen, sides, thigh coverts, and lower tail-coverts with deep brown subterminal spots, or oval drops. There is a peculiar notch in the first quill's inner web, about 1.25 from the tip, which is very marked. The 2nd quill is the longest, the 1st being 0.37 shorter, the 3rd 0.5 shorter. No such strongly marked notch is observable in any of the specimens of H. Subbuteo before me, and none is noticeable in the 2nd quill in this species. In L. Chequera again, the notch is of quite a different shape, and occurs in both 1st and 2nd quills; the 3rd quill being the longest in this latter species. Proportionally, the wings of Severus, and Subbuteo, are much longer than those of L. Chequera.
Mr. Wallace tells us that this species is found in Macassar, Salwattee, Java, the Philippines, and most probably, occasionally in every island of the Archipelago.
Just as this species is the local representative of the common Hobby in Southern Asia, so in Southern Africa, this latter finds its local representative in H. Cuvieri, which Mr. Gurney considers very closely allied to the present species.
Hypotriorchis Subbuteo (Linn.) Hobby.
Hypotriorchis Cuvieri (A. Smith.) Cuvier's Hobby.
These two Hobbies, though treated by Mr. Layard as belonging to the same species, are unquestionably distinct: They both occur in South Africa, but both appear to be rare in that region.
H. Cuvieri described by Sir A. Smith, in 1830, (S. African Quarterly Journal, I. p. 392) is nearly allied to the peculiar Hobby of South Eastern Asia, H. Severus (Horsf.), and has been figured by Professor Schlegel (Nedeil. Tijdschr. I. p. 123, pl. 5) under the name of Falco Boschir (cf. Ibis, 1864, p. 398)."
Mr. Blyth, in the Ibis for 1866, makes the following interesting remarks, in regard to Hypotriorchis Subbuteo, and Severus.
" The crepuscular habits of the birds of this division, have now been noticed in H. Eleonoree (Ibis, 1865, p. 333).”
" H. Severus bears just that relationship to H. Subbuteo, which Hirundo Cahirica bears to H. Rustica, and H. Hyperythra (of Ceylon) to H. Erythropygia, (Sykes, which is distinct from H. Daurica.) In all of these cases, the deeper coloured bird is less migratory, or even permanently resident. The rufous-bellied Hobby, has not been observed northward of the Himalayahs, nor Hirundo Hyperythra out of Ceylon ; and while neither H. Rustica, nor H. Rufula winters in Palestine, Mr. Tristram remarks of H. Cahirica that a few remain on the sea coast and in the Ghor, all the winter (P. Z. S. 1864, p. 443). Indeed, it would appear, that he observed them, in considerable numbers, during the winter months. (Land of Israel pp. 105, 118). It may be added, that Falco Peregrinator stands in the same relationship to F. Peregrinus, and is likewise a more subtropical species, with a comparatively limited range of distribution. Compare also the African Tinnunculus Rupicolus with T. Alaudarius, and Athene Castanotum of Ceylon with A. Radiatus"
Dr. Stoliczka remarks, that this species " is not common in the forest about Kotegurh, and Kooloo, and that, during the summer, it seems to migrate further north"
Mr. E. Thompson, however, a very accurate field naturalist, sends me the following notes :
" These birds regularly resort to the dense forests, on the lower ranges of Kumaon and Gurhwal, about April. In June, I watched a female bearing a small bird away, but could not follow where she took it to. I inferred from this, that she must have had a nest of fledged young ones, as there were lots of fine trees standing close to where she passed me, and where she might have stopped to pluck her quarry. Later observations, confirm that the bird breeds about April, in our lofty and dense forests. I have seen a pair constantly hovering in the valley of Dhumola; a place of only about 2500 feet elevation.
" I lately saw, in February last, a pair sitting on a dead tree, in the Kumaon valley, Kotridhoon, Gurhwal. They were both screaming as most Falcons do when pairing."