1260. Falco subbuteo.
Falco subbuteo, Linn. Syst. Nat. i, p. 127 (1766) ; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. i, p. 395; Hume & Ball, S. F. vii, p. 197; Cripps, ibid. p. 241;. Hume, Cat. no. 13; Doig, S. F. is, p. 282; Butler, ibid. p. 370 ; Biddulph, His, 1881, p. 39; Scully, ibid. p. 417 ; Reid, S. F. x, p. 4; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 16; Hume, S. F. xi, p. 3. Hypotriorcbis subbuteo, Boie, Isis, 1826, p. 970; Blyth, Cat. p. 15;. Horsf. & M. Cat. i, p. 23; Jerdon, B. I. i, p. 33; Stoliczka, J. A. S. B. xxxvii, pt. 2, p. 13 ; Hume, Rough Notes, p. 85; Brooks, S. F. iii, p. 228; Butler, ibid. p. 443 ; Hume & Inglis, S. F. v, p. 4. Lithofalco subbuteo, King, J. A. S. B. xxxvii, pt. 2, p. 213.
Coloration. Adults. Upper parts dark slaty grey, shafts of feathers darker, head very dark and blackish ; lores, forehead, and supercilia whitish; cheek-stripe and sides of head beneath and behind the eye blackish; some buff on the hind-neck, forming a partial collar; quills blackish, barred on the basal portion of the inner webs with rufous; tail slaty grey, the outer feathers barred with rufous on the inner webs; chin, throat, and sides of neck buff or white;. breast and upper abdomen the same, with a large blackish-brown streak down each feather; lower abdomen, thigh-coverts, and under tail-coverts varying from pale rufous to rich ferruginous.
Young birds are greyish or brownish black above, with fulvous borders to all feathers; lower parts pale rufous, with broad blackish-brown streaks throughout; tail tipped with rufous, otherwise like the adults. The tail often remains brown after the upper plumage generally is slaty grey.
Bill bluish, with a black tip ; lower base of bill, cere, and orbital skin greenish yellow; irides intense brown; lege orange (Cripps).
Length of female about 13; tail 6 ; wing 11; tarsus 1.4 ; mid-toe without claw 1.25; bill from gape .8: wing of male 10.25, tail 5.5.
Distribution. All Europe and Northern and Central Asia, migrating to Africa and India in the winter. The Hobby probably breeds in the Himalayas, where it is commonly found, and it is a summer visitor to Gilgit; in the plains of India it has only been met with occasionally, chiefly to the northward, the most southern reported localities being Jalna (Jerdon), Belgaum (Butler), and Eaipur. It has been obtained in Cachar (Inglis) and Manipur (Hume), but not in Burma nor in Ceylon.
Habits, &c. The Hobby feeds much on insects, especially dragon-flies, and is often crepuscular in its movements; it is very swift, and was formerly a favourite with Falconers for hawking small birds, such as quails, larks, &c, and, in India, hoopoes and king-crows. The nest has not been taken in India ; it is placed on a tree, and the eggs are of the usual Falcon type, reddish, speckled darker; they are usually 3 or 4 in number, and measure about 1.7 by 1.3.