771. Red-legged Falcon.
Falco vespertinus, Linn. Syst. Nat. i. p. 129 (1766) ; Hewitson, i. p. 28, pl. ix. figs. 2, 3 ; (Gould), B. of Gt. Brit. i. pl. 20 ; Newton, i. p. 69, Dresser, vi. p. 93, pl. 382 ; (Sharpe), Cat. B. Br. Mus. i. p. 443 ; (Tacz.), F. O. Sib. O. p. 90 ; Saunders, p. 353 ; Lilford, i. p. 45, pl. 23 ; F. rufipes, Beseke, Vog. Kurl. p. 20, Taf. 3, 4 (1792) ; Naum. i. p. 311, Taf. 28 ; Gould, B. of E. i. pl. 23.
Faucon kobez, French ; Falco cuculo, Ital. ; Rotfussfalke Germ. ; Rodfodfalk, Dan. ; Rodbent Falk, Swed. ; Punajalka-haukka, Finn. ; Kobtschik, Russ. ; Kirghe, Tartar.
Male ad. (Malta). Entire upper parts dark plumbeous, paler on the wing- coverts ; quills silver-grey above, black below ; tail black ; under parts blue-grey ; thighs, vent, and under tail-coverts rich chestnut ; under wing- coverts greyish black ; bill horn-colour, blackish at tip ; cere, bare space round the eye, and legs bright brownish red ; iris bright brown. Cul¬men 0.75, wing 9.7, tail 5.8, tarsus 1.0 inch. The female has the head, neck, and sides of neck rufous ; upper parts and tail ashy grey, barred with darker grey ; quills ashy grey, barred with reddish white on the inner web ; throat and cheeks white, tinged with rufous ; moustache and rest of under parts, with the under wing-coverts rufous like the head ; soft parts duller than in the male. The young bird resembles the female, but is paler, the head and under parts considerably paler, the forehead hoary white, and the crown dark striped.
Hab. Europe generally, up to Sweden and Archangel, rarer in the west ; a somewhat rare visitor to Great Britain, has once occurred in Ireland, and has strayed to the Canaries; Africa south to Damaraland in winter ; Asia Minor, western and central Asia, becoming rare further east, but has occurred as far east as the Baikal district.
In habits it resembles the Kestrel more than the Hobby. It affects groves and the open country rather than the forest, and feeds chiefly on insects of various kinds, occasionally however capturing small birds. Its note is a clear, shrill hi, uttered several times in succession. It breeds in trees, frequently taking possession of deserted nests of Crows and Magpies, and in June deposits 3 to 4 eggs, which resemble those of F. subbuteo, but are smaller and darker, more approach¬ing those of the Kestrel. In size they average 1.45 by 1.16.
771. Falco vespertinus
771. Red-legged Falcon.