1741. Cerchneis tinnunculus interstinctus

(1741) Cerchneis tinnunculus interstincta McClell.
THE HIMALAYAN KESTREL.
Cerchneis tinnunculus interstinctus, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. v. p. 62.
This race of the Kestrel breeds in the lower ranges of the Himalayas between 2,000 and 8,000 feet, from Kashmir and the North-West Frontier to Assam and Manipur. It is quite possible that this race of Kestrel may breed at still higher levels than 8,000 feet, but it is more probable that the birds seen and nesting at the higher altitudes are all japanensis.
Fulton records their breeding from 4,000 feet upwards in Chitral and mentions seeing one at 18,000 but, whilst those breeding at the lower levels are undoubtedly interstinctus, it is not certain to what race those breeding at the higher elevations really belong. Kinnear and Ludlow identify two specimens shot by the latter off their nests in the Tian Shan as typical tinnunculus, but I should place them under japanensis. Much more breeding material is still required to settle the breeding range of the various races.
The present bird is a very common resident in the lower Hima¬layas and many collectors have taken its eggs, these having all been recorded as those of the typical European form.
About Naini Tal Whymper found it breeding commonly between 4,000 and 5,000 feet and took several clutches of eggs, now in my collection.
During the breeding season the birds seem to prefer rugged hill¬sides, cliffs and precipices, the very great majority laying their eggs in clefts of rocks, ledges on a cliff-face or in similar places. Sometimes the birds make a rough and rather meagre nest of sticks, grass and rubbish, often using bits of rag and cloth mixed in with these ; at other times there is no trace of a nest, the eggs being laid on the bare rock or earth.
Hume writes ('Nests and Eggs,’ vol. iii,p. 195) of nests as follows:— “The nest is round, oblong, or semicircular, according to the shape of the site chosen, and is a thicker or thinner platform 12 to 20 inches in diameter, and 2 to 6 in thickness, made of small twigs, in which grass, roots, rags, and, as Mr. Thompson informs me, at times strips of cloth, 1/2 yard in length, are incorporated, and serve as lining.”
In contrast to this Betham writes (Journ. Bomb. Nat. Hist. Soc. vol. xvii, p. 831, 1907) “The nests, if such they can be called, the eggs being laid on the bare ground, were all situated in holes or on ledges in the perpendicular banks of a river. As these were only some 30 feet high, they were very easy of access. I obtained my first clutch of five on the 12th April. I had noticed a pair haunting a particular locality where there was a suspicious looking hole. On flinging a clod of earth at this, out flew madam. I did not take long to get the eggs, which were fresh. I then got four eggs from a ledge, which were exposed to the heavens with no protection. The third clutch was taken on the 24th May. On this occasion the eggs were laid some way in and the female sat very close.”
Yet a third type of site is an empty or deserted nest of a Crow or other bird ; this, however, is exceptional. Marshall (C. N. T.) near Murree “found a nest about 60 feet up in a pine-tree with five hard-set eggs in it. This "was on the 11th June. The nest was one apparently originally belonging to Corms macrorhynchus.” Rattray also found Kestrels’ nests near Murree, one in a Crow’s nest in a tree and others on rocks, while Ward also took a clutch of eggs from a Crow’s nest in Kashmir.
Rarely they breed in holes in walls of buildings, Theobald finding one such in “a hole in a serai wall of Thanna, South of Biramgaala, Shahabad.”
The breeding season lasts from mid-April to mid-June, but Ward obtained one clutch of eggs, very hard set, on the 15th July.
The eggs, numbering four to six in a clutch, are quite indistinguish¬able from those of the Common Kestrel and go through the same range of variation. Some are a deep, almost unicoloured brick-red or purplish-red ; others have a pink-red, pale briek-red or buff ground handsomely and boldly blotched all over with deep red of various shades ; other eggs are freckled instead of blotched, and every intermediate form may be met with. A very curious clutch taken by Ward at Rattu has a white ground, rather feebly blotched all over with dark sienna-brown. Another clutch taken by White¬head in the Khagan Valley has a salmon ground blotched with purple-brown, heavily at the larger ends, scantily elsewhere.
In shape the eggs are broad ovals, the texture coarse and not very close, and the surface with no gloss.
Sixty-eight eggs average 39.3 x 31.6 mm. : maxima 41.1 x 32.7 and 40.3 x 84.1 mm. ; minima 37.4 x 31.0 and 40.0 x 29.3.
Both birds incubate, but the female seems to do more incubation than the male.

BookTitle: 
The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Reference: 
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 4. 1935.
Title in Book: 
1741. Cerchneis tinnunculus interstinctus
Spp Author: 
Mcclell.
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
CatNo: 
1741
Year: 
1935
Page No: 
41
Common name: 
Himalayan Kestrel
M_ID: 
11259
M_SN: 
Falco tinnunculus interstinctus
Volume: 
Vol. 4
Term name: 
id: 
14913

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