(1788) Milvus migrans lineatus.
THE BLACK-EARED KITE OR LARGE INDIAN KITE.
Haliaetus lineatus Gray in Hardw., Ill. Ind. Zool., i, p. 1 (1832) (China). Milvus melanotis. Blanf. & Oates, iii, p. 377.
Vernacular names. As for the preceding bird.
Description. Similar to the Common Pariah Kite except in having much more white on the lower wing-coverts, making a conspicuous white wing-patch especially noticeable when on the wing; generally the colour below is less rich than in M. m. govinda, paler and with no rufous tinge.
Colours of soft parts as in the other races. The legs and feet are sometimes nearly white, the claws black as usual.
Measurements. Wing, 475 to 529 mm., 480 to 552 mm.; tail 288 to 345 mm.; tarsus 52 to 62 mm.; culmen 34 to 37 mm.
Young birds are like those of the other races but generally very boldly marked on a darker ground-colour of brown.
Distribution. Japan, North China, Mongolia to the Himalayas as far West as Ladak and Northern Kashmir. It breeds in the hills and mountains South of the Brahmapootra and possibly in the higher ranges of Burma and Indo-China.
Nidification. Very similar to that of the last bird except that in India it is more of a forest-breeder and less of a village-haunter. The nests are similar also and have almost as much rubbish used in their construction unless they are built at a considerable distance from human buildings. In Assam we found them breeding at low altitudes in the hills, sometimes at 2,000 or 3,000 feet but always in the wilder parts away from villages. The eggs number two or three and only vary from those of the Pariah lute in being larger. One hundred average 57.3 x 45.2 mm.: maxima 61.4 x 45.1 and 61.0 x 47.5 mm. ; minima 53.8 x 47.0 and 54.1 x 41.0 mm. The breeding-season in Kashmir and Ladak is March and April, in Tibet April and early May, in Assam February and March and in China February to March. In this last country the bird is as familiar and village-haunting as is our Common Indian Kite in India and is said to breed both upon trees and rocks.
Habits. Differ in noway from those of the Pariah Kite except that it a is shier and wilder bird, is only found in the plains in Winter and does not breed below 7,000 feet, if as low, except in Assam. Like Milvus govinda it sometimes collects in immense numbers to roost, the squealing which then goes on being incredible. It also collects in vast flocks when following locusts and I have seen many thousands at such times in the Assam Hills, dozens being perched on almost every pine-tree within sight.