This Family contains all those genera of Indian Accipitres not already dealt with in preceding families and comprises the .Falcons, Hawks, Kites, Eagles, Harriers and Buzzards. They are distinguished from the Vultures in having the head and neck feathered and from the Osprey in having an after-shaft to the body-feathers. Gypaetus, which in habits and in many of its structural characters is very Vulturine, seems to form a link between the true Vultures and the Falconidae but in virtue of its feathered head may be more conveniently retained as a subfamily of the latter.
In this family there are always 12 tail-feathers and 14 cervical vertebrae. The division of the family into groups or subfamilies has been dealt with differently by almost every Ornithologist who has reviewed them but I agree with Sclater (' System a Avium Aethiopicarum '), who retains all under the one group, except that it seems imperative to separate Gypaetus in a sub-group by itself or perhaps with the genus of African Vulturine Fish-Eagles. As regards the sequence of the genera it appears impossible to arrange any better sequence than that of Blanford, except that it seems preferable to commence with the typical genus Falco. It is, of course, impossible to produce any order which shall in every case lead naturally from one genus to another but in Blanford's arrangement the natural affinities between each two genera seem easier to discern than in most others.
Key to Subfamilies.
A.Bill lengthened and Vulturine in shape ; claws blunt; a tuft of long bristles on the
chin...............Gypaetinae, p. 25.
B.Bill short and aquiline in shape; claws sharp and generally greatly curved; no
tuft on chin.........................Falconing p. 29.