(1733) Microhierax fringillarius.
THE BLACK-LEGGED FALCONET.
Falco fringillarius Drapiez, Diet. Class. d'Hist. Nat., vi, p. 412 (1824) (Indes, restricted to Malacca, Kirke-Swann). Microhierax fringillarius. Blanf. & Oates, hi, p. 434.
Vernacular names. Nothing recorded.
Description. Forehead and supercilium from above the eye white, the latter running down behind the ear-coverts to the breast; cheeks and anterior ear-coverts white; posterior ear-coverts black; remainder of upper plumage, closed wings and tail black, glossed with green-blue; inner webs of wing-quills and of all but the middle tail-feathers barred with white; chin, throat and breast white, changing to ferruginous on the lower breast and abdomen; flanks, thigh-coverts and ends of under tail-coverts black.
Colours of soft parts. Iris rich brown ; bill black, the base next the forehead sometimes bluish-slate; legs and feet black.
Measurements. Wing, 89 to 95 mm., 96 to 102 mm.; tail, 52 to 54 mm., 54 to 59 mm.; tarsus 18 to 19 mm.; culmen, 10 to 11 mm., 11 to 12 mm.
Young birds have the forehead, supercilium and cheeks rich ferruginous; the feathers of the upper plumage and wing-coverts are narrowly edged with dull pale fulvous, the edges broader and brighter on the rump and upper tail-coverts.
Distribution. The South of Tenasserim through the Malay Peninsula to Java, Borneo, except the North-East portion, and Sumatra.
Nidification. The Black-legged Falconet breeds in Tenasserim during March, laying its eggs in deserted nest-holes of Barbets or Woodpeckers. Davison obtained an egg from the oviduct of a female, which he shot after it had flown out of a Barbet's nest-hole, which on examination proved to contain a mass of flies' and butterflies' wings. The egg was pure white with a pale green tinge when held up to the light (? from the inner membrane). The egg was obtained on the 25th March. Robinson informs me that it has also been known to breed in the roofs of houses in the Malay States.
Habits. Very little on record. They prefer open country but are also occasionally found in dense forest. They feed on insects, small birds and mammals and are exceeding bold and courageous little birds, generally consorting in pairs. In the Malay Penin¬sula they generally frequent the outskirts of forest.