(1743) Cerchneis tinnunculus japonicus.
THE JAPANESE KESTREL.
Falco tinnunculus japonicus Temm. & Schleg. in Siebold's Faun. Jap., Aves, p. 2, pis. i & ib (1844) (Japan). Tinnunculus alaudarius. Blanf. & Oates, iii, p. 428 (part.).
Vernacular names as in the other races.
Description. This is a rather darker form than the typical one, yet lighter than either saturatus or interstinctus.
Colours of soft parts as in the other races.
Measurements. wing 244 to 259 mm.; tail 152 to 168 mm.; wing 243 to 268 mm.; tail 157 to 166 mm.
Distribution. Breeding Japan and North-East Asia through the Northern Chinese hills through Setchuan to Tibet, Ladak and Northern Kashmir. It seems possible that when sufficient breeding-material is available the more Northern breeding-birds will be found to be much paler and very close to C. t. tinnunculus but differing in being larger and in having very pronounced white fringes to the feathers of the upper parts. Birds answering to this description crop up here and there throughout the Winter ranges of the various Kestrels from North-West India to extreme Eastern South China.
In Winter birds indistinguishable from breeding japonicus occur all over South China, Burma and India but more commonly in Eastern than in Western India.
Nidification. Within Indian limits this Kestrel breeds certainly in Ladak, whilst it is also probably the form which breeds throughout the higher parts of Kashmir. It is common in Tibet up to 14,000 feet and breeds throughout the Northern Chinese ranges. In Kashmir its eggs have been taken from the nests of Carrion-Crows and various other birds but more frequently from off ledges of rocks on cliff-faces. In the latter case there may be a slight attempt at a stick- and rubbish-nest or there may be none at all. The sixty eggs which I attribute to the Japanese Kestrel average 40.1 x 32.3 mm., which is rather larger than those of the European and Himalayan Kestrel. Eggs from Tibet average no less than 41.8 x 33.6 mm.: maxima 43.4 x 34.5 and 42.3 x 34.7 mm.; minima 27.1 X 30.5 and 41.2 x 29.0 mm.
Habits. Those of the species.