(1741) Cerchneis tinnunculus interstinctus.
THE Himalayan KESTREL.
Falco interstinctus McClell., P. Z. S., 1839, p. 154 (Assam). Tinnunculus alaudarius. Blanf. & Oates, iii, p. 428 (part.).
Vernacular names. As for the typical form.
Description. Much darker both above and below than in the Common European Kestrel, not quite so dark and without so strong a slaty-grey wash on the upper plumage of the male as in saturatus.
Measurements, wing 230 to 263 mm.; tail 145 to 174 mm wing 245 to 264 mm.; tail 146 to 179 mm.
Distribution. Assam, Cachar, Sylhet, Manipur and the whole of the lower Himalayas, breeding between 2,000 and 8,000 feet and possibly higher. Breeding-birds from Northern Kashmir, Ladak and Tibet seem indistinguishable from C. t.japonicus.
Nidification. The Himalayan Kestrel breeds during April, May and June, nearly always placing its nest on a ledge of rock on a cliff or in holes in steep river-banks. Generally a nest of some sort is made composed of sticks, roots ami grass often mixed with rags and scraps of cloth but at other times there is no nest at all, this more especially when, as at Quetta, the eggs are deposited in holes in river-banks. Occasionally eggs are laid in old nests of other birds and frequently in some districts in ruined buildings, old walls and similar places. Whistler says it certainly breeds at 2,000 feet or even lower, whilst, on the other hand, it breeds up to 8,000 feet at Simla and possibly 2,000 feet higher. The eggs number three to six and are indistinguishable from those of the Common Kestrel. Sixty eggs average 39.3 x 31.6 mm.: maxima 41.1 x 32.7 and 40.3 x 34.1 mm.; minima 37.4 x 31.0 and 40.0 x 29.3 mm.
Habits. Similar to those of the Common Kestrel. This Kestrel is also migratory and extends over a considerable extent of Northern India during the Winter.