Falco subbuteo, Linn. Syst. Nat. i. p. 127 (1766) ; Naum. i. p. 296, Taf. 26 ; Hewitson, i. p. 26, pl. ix. fig. 1 ; Gould, B. of. E. i. pl. 22 ; id. B, of Gt. Brit. pl. 18 ; Newton, i. p. 65 ; Dresser, vi. p. 69, pls. 378, 379 ; Sharpe, Cat. B. Br. Mus. i. p. 395 ; Tacz. F. O. Sib. O. p. 84 ; Blanf. F. Brit. Ind. Birds, iii. p. 422 ; Saunders, p. 349 ; Lilford, i. p. 44, pls. 20, 21.
Le Hobereau, French ; Alcotan, Span. ; Falcao tagarote, Portug. ; Lodolajo, Ital. ; Lerchenfalke, Germ. ; Boomvalk, Dutch ; Larkefalk, Dan ; Larkfalk, Swed. ; Leivohaukka, Finn. ; Tscheglok, Sokol-Bidogorlik, Russ. ; Morassani, Oude ; Chigo-hayabusa, Jap.
Male ad. (Finland). Upper parts dark slate-grey, clearer on the rump and upper tail-coverts, darker and often tinged with brown on the head ; lores, supercilium, and an ill-defined nuchal collar, buffy white, the last inclining to ferruginous ; quills black, on the inner web irregularly barred with rufous ; tail slate-grey, all but the two middle feathers barred on the inner web and tipped with ferruginous ; cheek and moustache black, the chin and sides of the neck warm creamy white ; rest of the under parts creamy white, the breast and flanks striped with black ; under wing- coverts and axillaries buffy white, the former striped, the latter barred with blackish brown ; thighs and under tail-coverts rich rust-red ; bill light blue-black, yellowish at the base ; cere and legs yellow ; iris brown. Culmen 0.7, wing 10.0, tail 6.0, tarsus 1.1 inch. Female similar but larger. The young bird has the upper parts blackish brown, with fulvous margins, the under parts fulvous white, the breast and flanks blotched and striped with blackish brown, the lower abdomen becoming rufescent fulvous, also streaked and mottled.
Hab. A summer visitor to the British Islands and Northern Europe up to about 65° N. ; the Canaries ; Africa south to the Cape Colony ; Asia Minor and Asia east to China, Corea, and Japan, north to Kamchatka, south to the Himalayas and the plains of India. In South Africa it is replaced by F. cuvieri, Smith, and in India and the Malay Archipelago by F. severus, Horsf.
Frequents woodlands and groves and is to some extent crepuscular in its habits. Its food consists largely of insects of various kinds, but it is swift on the wing and bold, and frequently preys on small birds. It is a late breeder and generally makes use of the deserted nest of a crow or some other large bird, and in June deposits 3 to 5 eggs, which on a yellowish white ground are closely covered with yellowish red spots and blotches, which but seldom become rufous like the eggs of the Kestrel. In size they average 1.62 by 1.31.
769. Falco subbuteo