(1744) Cerchneis tinnunculus objurgatus.
THE INDIAN KESTREL.
Falco tinnunculus objurgatus Stuart Baker, Bull. B. O.C., xlvii, p. 106 (1927) (Nilgiris). Tinnunculus alaudarius. Blanf. & Oates, iii, p. 428 (part.).
Vernacular names as in the other races.
Description. Differs from the other races in the very brick-red colour of the plumage of the male and the very rich and red plumage of the female. In both sexes the under parts are very rufous.
Colours of soft parts as in the other races.
Measurements. , wing 225 to 240 mm.; tail 147 to 159 mm.; culmen 16 to 17 mm. wing 234 to 255 mm. ; tail 155 to 169 mm.
Distribution. A resident breeding-form in Ceylon, Travancore, and the hill-ranges of Mysore and Southern India. It has long been known to breed about the Gairsoppa Falls and in the Nilgiris ; both Bourdillon and Stewart knew it to breed in North and South Travancore ; it has also been obtained in June and July in the Nelliampathy Hills, whilst Davidson also believed it to breed in the steeper and more rugged ravines and hills in the Kanara District of Bombay. It is certainly a non-migratory race but to what extent it wanders in Winter it is difficult to say. There is a specimen in the British Museum obtained in the Laccadives.
Nidification. The Indian Kestrel lays in February, March and April, Car dew also recording eggs as early as January in the Nilgiris. It is known to breed freely in these hills between 4,000 and 7,500 feet, the summits; it is also supposed to breed at Mahableswar and in the Western Ghats and it certainly breeds in Travancore during these same months. Nests taken have all been in holes and crevices or on ledges on cliffs, with the exception of a twice-occupied nest found by Darling which was built on the top of a dead stump of a tree about 14 feet from the ground. I have seen no eggs of this race, nor are there any in the Hume Collection in the British Museum.
Habits. Those of the species except that it does not appear to be migratory in the true sense of the word. In the breeding-season it is confined to the hill-country, where alone suitable breeding-places are available but in the non-breeding season it scatters far and wide over the plains of Southern and Central India.