1265. Tinnunculus alaudarius.
Falco tinnunculus, Linn. Syst. Nat. i, p. 127 (1766) : Wardl. Ramsay, Ibis, 1880, p. 47. Falco alaudarius, Cm. Syst. Nat. i, p. 279 (1788). Cerchneis tinnunculus, Boie, Isis, 1828, p. 314; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. i, p. 425; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 3 ; Cripps, S. F. vii, p. 242 ; Hume, Cat. no. 17; Scully, S. F. viii, p. 223; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 114; Barnes, S. F. ix, p. 214; Butlerl ibid. p. 370; Biddulph, Ibis, 1881, p. 40 ; Scully, ibid. p. 418 ; Reid, S. F. x, p. 5 ; Davison, ibid. p. 334; Hume, S. F. xi, p. 4; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 18; id. Jour. Bom. N. H. Soc. iii, p. 211. Tinnunculus alaudarius, Blyth, Cat. p. 15 ; Horsf. & M. Cat. i, p. 13: Jerdon, B. I. i, p. 38; Hume, Rough Notes, p. 90; Blanf. J. A. S. B. xii, pt. 2, p. 41; Cock & Marsh, S. F. i, p. 349; Brooks, S. F. iii, p. 228; Hume & Bourd. S. F. iv, p. 355; Butler, S. F. v, p. 220; Wardl. Rams. Ibis, 1877, p. 453; Gurney, Ibis, 1881, p. 456; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 217 ; id. in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 195. Falco interstinctus, McClell. P. Z. S. 1839, p. 154. Tinnunculus saturatus, Blyth, J. A. S. B. xxviii,p. 277 ; id. Ibis, 1866, p. 238; Blyth & Wald. Birds Burm. p. 59; Hume, S. F v, p. 129 ; vi, p. 3; id. Cat. no. 17 bis. Cerchneis alaudarius, Hume, S. F. iv, p. 460.
Karontia, Koruttia, Khermutia, H. in the North ; Narzi , Narzinak, H. in the South ; Tondala-muchi-gedda, Tondala-doshi-gadu, Tel.; Ting-kyi, Lepcha; Gyo-thane, Burmese.
Coloration. Adult male. Forehead and lores yellowish white; crown, nape, and sides of neck ashy grey with narrow black shaft-lines ; a dark grey cheek-stripe; ear-coverts and cheeks white to silvery grey with some darker streaks ; back, scapulars, and wing-coverts brick-red with a vinous or pink tinge and with scattered triangular black spots; rump and upper tail-coverts ashy grey; tail-feathers the same above, whitish beneath, with a broad sub-terminal black band and white tips; quills dark brown, with bar-like white indentations on their inner webs, basal portion chiefly white ; lower parts buff to rufous fawn, with brown streaks on the upper breast passing into spots on the lower breast and flanks ; throat and lower abdomen unspotted; wing-lining white, with a few black spots.
Female. Rufous above varying in tint, with black streaks on the head and black transverse bands on the rest of the upper parts and on the tail; the latter has a broad subterminal black band, not so wide as in the male; quills and lower surface as in the male, but the spots on the breast are larger and more numerous. In old females the rump, upper tail-coverts, and tail are more or less tinged with bluish grey.
Young males are like females: the tail becomes bluish grey before the head does. Some males that appear perfectly adult have the head tinged with rufous.
In India and Burma, as in Africa, Kestrels that are resident are often darker in colour than migrants : the rufous above is deeper and the lower surface is brownish rufous. A Moulmein female of this kind was the type of Blyth's T. saturatus.
Bill bluish black; the gape, cere, and eyelids yellow; irides brown ; legs orange-yellow, claws black.
Length of male about 14 ; tail 6.75 ; wing 9.5 ; tarsus 1.5; mid-toe 1; bill from gape .85. The female is scarcely larger.
Distribution. The Kestrel breeds throughout the entire Palae¬ arctic region, also in the Himalayas above 7000 feet, in South Afghanistan, and in several of the hill groups of Peninsular India, especially in all the higher parts of the Western Ghats. It probably breeds in the hills of Burma also. Prom September till April it is commonly distributed all over the Indian Empire, the vast majority of these birds being migrants from the North. It migrates to Africa at the same time.
Habits, &c. The Kestrel is not often seen in forest; cultivated tracts and plains of grass are its principal haunts, and over these it may be seen beating, especially in the morning and evening, every now and then hovering with a quick motion of the wings above a spot where it has seen or suspects it has seen its prey, on which it drops quietly. From its characteristic method of hunting is derived the English name of " Windhover." It subsists on insects (especially locusts), lizards, frogs, and mice, rarely if ever touching birds. The nest of the Kestrel is placed on rocky ledges or small holes in cliffs, occasionally on ruins, more rarely on trees. The breeding-season in the North is from April to June, but earlier in Southern India, and the nest is of sticks with some grassroots, rags, or feathers intermixed. Very often a deserted crow's or magpie's nest is utilized. From 3 to 6 eggs are laid, usually 4 or 5, broad oval, more or less pointed and compressed towards one end, brick to blood-red, mottled and blotched with a deeper colour, and measuring about 1.57 by 1.21.