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Brit. B. p. 100 (1883) ; Saunders, Man. Brit. B. p. 328
(1889); Lilford, Col. Fig. Brit. B. part xxvii. (1893).

(Plate XLIX.)

Adult Male. General colour above brown, with slightly paler
margins to the feathers, which are black-shafted ; on the nape
a spot of white, caused by the white bases to the feathers ;
greater coverts and quills darker brown at their ends, exter-
nally shaded with grey, and having two broad bars at the base,
which is whitish below ; the inner webs, particularly of the
secondaries, with slight greyish frecklings ; upper tail-coverts
rather paler brown than the back, barred with white near the
base, and having obsolete white tips ; tail pale brown, narrowly
tipped with whitish, the base also mottled with white; the
tail-feathers crossed with three bands, one near the base rather
paler brown, one in the middle and one just before the tip of the
8 N



178 ALLEN'S NATURALIST'S LIBRARY.

tail darker brown, the sub-terminal one very broad ; head grey,
this colour extending on to the sides of the neck ; under surface
of body white, narrowly streaked with brown, these streaks
widening out into a spade-shaped spot on the sides of the
breast ; flanks and abdomen also spotted with brown ; under
wing-coverts also brown, the inner ones and the axillaries white,
with a few brown spots or bars' the lower series white with
broad blackish bars ; cere grey ; bill black ; iris straw-colour.
Total length, 25*5 inches; culmen, 1*4; wing, 17*2; tail, n*o;
tarsus, 2-0.

Adult Female. Similar to the male in colour. Total length,
23 inches; wing, i6'6.

Young Bird. Distinguished by its brown head and face, and
by the markings on the tail, which, besides the two brown
bands (one median and one sub-terminal), has the basal part
varied with six or seven broken bars or mottlings. The
under surface of the body is dull rufous-brown, with very dis-
tinct black shaft-stripes, the under tail-coverts and some of the
breast-feathers paler and more buff at their bases ; the head
and hind-neck spotted with buff, the feathers having their
points of this colour ; forehead and eyebrow white, and the
wing-coverts also tipped with white.

As the young birds progress to maturity the under surface
becomes barred with white.

Melanism. The Honey-Kite, both in its young and adult
plumage, is very subject to melanism, and examples are often
shot which are entirely brownish-black.

Range in Great Britain. The present species used to breed in
many parts of England, arriving in early summer to nest in
the wooded districts, but the beauty of its eggs and the rarity
of the bird have caused its destruction in this country, and of
late years I have not heard of any being taken in the New
Forest, which may be regarded as the last stronghold of the
Honey-Kite in England. In Ireland it appears to be a very
rare visitor, and the same may be said of Scotland, in parts of
which the species used to breed. In autumn a few examples
are procured at the time of the southward migration, and it has
been stated to occur in winter occasionally.



THE HONEY-KITES. J^Q

Range outside the British Islands. The Honey-Kite returns from
its winter home in Africa in May, and passes over the Straits
of Gibraltar in large numbers, more than a hundred being often
seen together. In September it passes south again, but in less
numbers and in smaller parties; a similar stream of migration
passes over the Bosphorus. The breeding-range of the species
seems to extend throughout the greater part of Europe to South-
ern Norway, and it nests in Sweden, Finland, and Russia up
to the Arctic Circle. It is probably this same species which
extends eastward to Turkestan, and Mr. Seebohm states that
he has received a specimen from Krasnoyarsk in Central
Siberia. He also believes that it extends through Eastern
Siberia to Japan and China, but it will probably be found to
be the eastern race, P. ptilonorhynchus, which has a slight crest,
which will prove to be the dominant species of Eastern Asia.
The last-named form breeds in India and occurs* throughout
the Burmese and Malayan countries, while in Java, and pro-
bably in Sumatra and Borneo, its place is taken by a resi-
dent form which is very dark and has almost as long a crest as
a Crested Eagle (Spizaetus).

Habits. In the northern part of its range the Honey-Kite is
a late arrival, not, as pointed out by Mr. Seebohm, so much on
account of its fearing the cold, as because the insects which form
its favourite food do not make their appearance until the middle
of the summer. The Honey-Kite feeds largely on wasps, bees,
and their larvae, which it extracts from the comb, but it also
devours other insects, as well as small birds and mice, slugs
and worms, and is even said by Mr. Sachse to eat berries and
small fruits in autumn, when animal food fails. The nature of
its food renders the Honey-Kite somewhat of a ground-bird,
and it is said to run with comparative agility.

Nest. As a rule the deserted nest of some other bird is
utilised by the Honey-Kite, being repaired and added to with
fresh twigs. Both sexes assist in the incubation of the eggs,
the sitting-bird being fed meanwhile by its mate.

Eggs. These are laid in June, and are mostly two in num-
ber, very rarely three, but even four have been known to occur.
The eggs are among the handsomest of those of Accipitrine
Birds, and are mostly richly clouded with two shades of rufous,

N 2



i8o



ALLEN'S NATURALISTS LIBRARY.



the overlying blotches being of the deepest chestnut, in fact
almost black. Some eggs are entirely clouded over with
lighter chestnut, while in others the buffy- white ground-colour
is conspicuous, and half of the egg is spotted with chest-
nut, with blotches and cloudings round the larger end, and
sometimes quite half the egg is clouded and blotched, while
the other half is only sparsely spotted. Axis, i'9-2 - 2 inches;
diam., 1-6-175.

THE TRUE FALCONS. SUB-FAMILY
FALCONING.

The Falcons have the tarsus reticulated and covered with a
network of scales both in front and behind. They are also
distinguished by having a distinct notch or tooth in the bill.
The outer toe is connected to the inner toe by a membrane
near the base, and the tibia is considerably longer than the
tarsus, imparting a great strength to the leg, which is evidenced
by the way in which these birds strike down their prey in full
flight. As with all the other Sub-families of the Birds of Prey,
species of various form are included, from the feeble Kite-like
Cuckoo-Falcons on the one hand, to the dashing Peregrines
on the other. Included in this Sub-family are the tiniest of all
the Hawks, viz., the Pigmy Falcons or Falconets (Mtcrohierax) t
birds which do not exceed the size of a Butcher-bird in bulk,
feed on insects, and lay white eggs in the hole of a tree. These
little Falconets inhabit the Himalayas, the Burmese countries
to Southern China, as well as the Malayan Peninsula and the
Indo- Malayan islands.

THE FALCONS. GENUS FALCO.

Falco, Linn. Syst. Nat. i. p. 124 (1766).

Type, F. peregrinus, Tunst.

All the Falcons have a distinct tubercle, or pedestal, in the
centre of their nostrils, which are round. The foot is powerful,
and the talons curved and very sharp, the outer toe longer
than the inner toe. The wings are very pointed, and the
primaries far exceed the secondaries in length.

The Falcons are found in nearly every part of the world.



THE FALCONS. xgi

I. THE PEREGRINE FALCON, FALCO PEREGRINUS.

Falco peregnmiS) Tunst. Orn. Brit. p. i (1771) ; Macg. Br. B.
iii. p. 294 (1840); Newton, ed. Yarr. Brit. B. i. p. 53
(1871); Dresser, B. Eur. vi. p. 31, pi. 372 (1876); See-
bohm, Brit. B. i. p. 33 (1883); B. O. U. List Br. B. p.
102 (1883); Saunders, Man. Br. B. p. 334 (1889); I-il-
ford, Col. Fig. Br. B. part xii. (1890).
l*alco communis, Gm. ; Sharpe, Cat. B. Brit. Mus. i. p. 376

(1874).

Adult Male. General colour above blue-grey, much paler
towards the rump and upper tail-coverts, the upper surface
barred with black, the bars on the rump and upper tail-coverts
more or less heart-shaped ; the head, neck, and upper mantle
blackish, with grey bars, more or less indistinct on the mantle ;
cheeks, ear-coverts, and a moustachial band blackish ; fore-
head whitish ; sides of neck white, forming a patch of white,
separating the ear-coverts from the hind-neck ; under surface
of body white, with a tinge of pale fawn-colour on the breast
and lower abdomen ; the throat unspotted, and the chest with
a few narrow bars of blackish, taking the form of spots in the
centre of the breast, and of narrow dart-shaped lines on the
under tail-coverts; the quills brownish-black, the primaries
slightly shaded with greyish, the secondaries clearer grey,
crossed by dull blackish bars, the smaller median quills tipped
with white ; tail-feathers grey, broadly barred with black and
tipped with white, the bars more obscure towards the tip of
the tail, which is darker than the basal portion; cere and
eyelids yellow ; bill blue, blackish towards the tip ; feet yel-
low, the claws black ; iris dark hazel-brown. Total length,
15 inches; culmen, 1*2; wing, I2'o-i2 7; tail, 6*5 ; tarsus,

2'5-

Adult Female Larger than the male. Total length, 17
inches; culmen, 1*35; wing, 14-5 ; tail, 7-5 ; tarsus, 2-3.

Young Birds. Brown, shaded with grey on the upper surface,
the feathers of which are edged with rufous ; head and neck
rusty-buff, the sides of the crown and occiput, the nape and
hind-neck, the feathers behind the eye, and the moustachial
line mottled with blackish ; under surface of the body rusty-



1 82 ALLEN'S NATURALIST'S LIBRARY.

buff, with mesial longitudinal spots of dark brown, fewer on
the thighs, and represented by bars on the under wing- and
tail-coverts.

The full-grown young birds may always be told by the rufous
margins to the feathers of the upper surface, which become
whitish on the upper tail-coverts and tail-feathers, the latter
spotted on the outer web and barred on the inner one with pale
rufous ; the under surface of the body is whitish, the throat
unspotted, but all the rest of feathers have longitudinal dark
brown centres, the markings on the sides of the body being
broader and more dart-shaped ; cere, eyelid, and feet bluish-
grey.

Range in Great Britain. The Peregrine breeds on many rocky
parts of the coast of England, and in some places there has
been a decided increase in the numbers of this noble Bird of
Prey, so that on the Dover cliffs and in the Isle of Wight in
the south, as well as the cliffs of Wales and the Flamborough
head-lands, the Peregrine Falcon is more in evidence than for-
merly, to the great delight of the ornithologist. Although in
many inland parts of England and Wales the species had been
exterminated, this was never the case in Scotland, and it breeds
both on the cliffs and in the interior, while it also inhabits the
rocky islands. In Ireland, according to Mr. R. J. Ussher, the
species breeds in numerous places all round the rocky coasts,
and in the mountain-cliffs of Tyrone, Fermanagh, Wicklow,
Tipperary, Waterford, and Galway.

Kange outside the British Islands. The Peregrine Falcon is
found throughout the northern and temperate parts of the Old
World, and on its winter migrations visits India and Africa.
The North American Peregrine can scarcely be considered
to be different from the European bird. In South America,
Africa, and Australia dark resident forms of Peregrine are
found, all of which may be considered to be distinct races, and
in the Mediterranean countries another small race, with black
cheeks, also occurs, viz., F. punicus. Again, in Java, Sumatra,
Borneo, and the Philippines is found a beautifully marked
form, of very dark, rich colour, called F. ernesti, and the
Himalayas have a reddish-breasted form, F. peregrinator. All
these different races can be recognised by an experienced eye



THE FALCONS.



as distinct, but they can never be considered more than races
of the ordinary Peregrine, for our European bird varies greatly
in the colour of the face, having the sides of the latter some-
times white, and sometimes entirely black, while the amount
of rufous on the under surface of the body also varies greatly,
being more rufous in some individuals than others. Thus
examples from Greenland and those from Egypt are very
richly tinted, and it is supposed that the abundance of ducks
and other prey has something to do with their finer appear-
ance.

Habits. From its bold spirit and fiery dash, the Peregrine
Falcon has always been considered the best bird for the pur-
poses of Falconry, not only in Europe, but also in the countries
of the East.

In a wild state the Peregrine feeds on all kinds of game,
rabbits, grouse, partridges, pigeons, and largely on ducks,
water-fowl, and sea-birds, and for the sake of the abundance
of the latter its eyrie is often found on the rocky cliffs, where
Puffins and Guillemots congregate. Sometimes, when bringing
food to its young, it will, apparently for mere wantonness, strike
down a Gull or Puffin that happens to fly in its path, and send
the bird headlong into the sea below. Choughs, Rooks, and
Magpies are also captured by the Falcons.

The nesting-place is tenanted year after year, and if one of
the birds be shot or trapped, the survivor is not long in finding
another mate. The breeding-season commences in April.

Nest. In this country the nest of the Peregrine Falcon is to
be found in high and almost inaccessible cliffs, a mere hollow
being formed, without any real attempt at a nest, but in other
countries, the old nest of a Rook or Heron, or some other bird,
in a tree, is selected, while in the north of Europe the bird
nests on the ground in the open. Beyond the debris of cast-
up pellets, bones of birds and animals, and a few scattered
feathers, nothing like a real nest is ever found.

Eggs. Two or three, and sometimes four in number. The
eggs of the Peregrine are richly clouded with some shade of
chestnut, over which are some mottlings of darker rufous, often
almost black in intensity. Sometimes the colour is uniform



184 ALLEN'S NATURALIST'S LIBRARY.

light rufous, with cloudings of darker chestnut irregularly dis-
tributed over the whole of the egg, accompanied by dots and
small or large spots. Occasionally the eggs have a buffy-white
ground-colour with reddish-brown blotches. Axis, 1-95-2-2;
diam., 1-55-1 -6.

II. THE HOBBY. FALCO SUBBUTEO.

Fako subbuteoy Linn. Syst. Nat. i. p. 127 (1766); Macg. Brit.
B. iii. p. 309 (1840); Newton, ed. Yarr. Brit. B. i. p. 65
(1871) ; Dresser, B. Eur. vi. p. 69, pis. 378, 379 (1871);
Sharpe, Cat. B. Brit. Mus. i. p. 395 (1874); B. O. U.
List Brit B. p. 102 (1883); Seebohm, Brit. B. i. p. 31
(1883); Lilford, Col. Fig. Br. B. parts ii. iii. (1886);
Saunders, Man. p. 337 (1889).

Adult Male. General colour above dark slaty-grey, inclining
to blackish on the head, much clearer on the lower back and
rump ; wing-coverts like the back ; quills blackish, with rufous
bars on the inner web ; tail slaty-grey, also barred with rufous
on the inner web; forehead and eyebrow whitish, the nape
tinged with rufous ; cheek-stripe, feathers below the eye and
along the upper margin of the ear coverts, black ; hinder part
of cheeks, sides of neck, throat, and entire breast creamy-
white, with a rufous tinge, the latter broadly streaked with
black down each feather, with a greyish shade on the flanks
and vent; thighs, vent, and under tail-coverts rich rusty-red ;
under wing-coverts buffy-white, with blackish cross-markings ;
cere, orbits, and feet yellow ; bill bluish-black, yellow at base ;
iris dark brown. Total length, 11-5 inches; culmen, 07;
wing, 9-6 ; tail, 5*5; tarsus, 1-25.

Adult Female. Similar to the male, but larger. Total length,
13-6 inches; culmen, 07; wing, io'6; tail, 6'5 ; tarsus, 1-4.

Young. Blackish, with buff edges to the feathers, broader
and more distinct on the secondaries, rump, and especially on
the crown ; forehead and eyebrow buffy-white ; cheek-stripe
and line under the eye black ; sides of neck, nape, and throat
rich creamy-buff; under surface of body creamy-buff, the thighs
and under tail-coverts more rufous; the breast broadly streaked
with black, the thighs more narrowly, the under tail-coverts



THE FALCONS.



185



streaked with a line of black; under wing-coverts rufous
numerously barred with black ; quills and tail black, banded
with rufous on the inner web, the tail-feathers tipped with
rufous.

Characters. The Hobby in its adult stage is very easily re-
cognised by its uniform rufous thighs, white throat and breast,
the latter being striped with black. The young Hobby is more
like a young Peregrine, but can, of course, be distinguished by
its smaller size.

Range in Great Britain. A summer visitor to England, where
it breeds, when permitted to do so in peace. It has been
known to nest in most of the southern and eastern counties,
as well as in the midlands, and on rare occasions in Yorkshire.
In Scotland it is chiefly known as a rare migrant, but Sir
Edward Newton has recorded an instance of the nesting of the
species near Dunkeld in 1887. It has never been known to
breed in Ireland, though some half-a-dozen occurrences in
that island have been chronicled.

Range outside the British Islands. The Hobby is found from
Northern Europe across Siberia to Kamtchatka. It breeds in
the forests of Central Europe and Scandinavia, and occasion-
ally in the countries of Southern Europe, but it is principally
known in the latter as a spring and autumn migrant. In
Northern Europe it extends to the Arctic Circle in Lapland,
and in Russia up to 65 N. lat. In winter the species visits
China, the Indian Peninsula, and migrates through Eastern
Africa as far as the Cape.

I Habits. The Hobby has much the appearance of a diminu-
tive Peregrine, but does not possess the strength or courage of
the larger Falcon, though it equals it in fierceness and agility
of flight. It feeds largely on insects, especially cockchafers
and dragon-flies, and when these are plentiful, it gives up the
chase of small birds in a great measure, and lives on insects,
which it catches with great dexterity on the wing, devouring
them in the air and allowing the wings and wing-cases to fall
to the earth. In some of these flights, Taczanowski says that
it will occasionally seize a Bat in its career, but drops the
latter without touching it further.



1 88 ALLEN'S NATURALIST'S LIBRARY.

are so systematically shot down, that few of them probably
reach the mature age when the female assumes a dress like
that of her mate. As a rule, the female Merlin is brown, the
tail-feathers being also brown, tipped with white, and crossed
with five bands of paler brown ; the under surface of the body
whitish, streaked with dark brown. Total length, 12 inches;
oilmen, 0-9; wing, 8'8; tail, 5-5; tarsus, i'5.

Young Birds. General colour above brown, with a slight shade
of ashy-grey, paler on the rump, all the feathers margined with
pale sandy-rufous, the secondaries with concealed bars of the
same colour ; forehead, eyebrow, and ear-coverts whitish,
narrowly streaked with black, the latter brownish on the
hinder part, which is slightly washed with rufous ; throat
creamy-white, with narrow and indistinct shaft-lines of brown ;
remainder of under surface of body whitish, with broad streaks
of reddish-brown, the black shaft-stripes very distinct ; thighs
with smaller brown spots, and the abdomen and under tail-
coverts with only a few brown markings ; sides of body reddish-
brown, marbled with large white spots ; under wing-coverts
also reddish-brown, with white spots like the sides of the body ;
quills dark brown, notched on the inner web, and spotted on
the outer one with rufous ; tail dark brown, tipped with
whitish, and barred with pale rufous.

Range in Great Britain. A resident species in Great Britain,
breeding on the mountain moorlands and descending to
more cultivated districts at lower elevations in winter, though
a considerable migration of the young birds from the shores
of England undoubtedly takes place. It is believed to nest
on Exmoor, but its regular breeding-haunts commence with
the moors of Derbyshire and North Wales, and extend thence
northwards to the Shetland Isles. The record of its breeding
in some of the more southern counties, though frequently
stated, needs confirmation in many instances. In Ireland.
Mr. R. J. Ussher says that " it breeds sparingly in about twenty-
two counties in the mountain districts, and also in some parts
of the great red bogs of the central plain."

Range outside the British Islands. The Merlin inhabits the
mountain districts of Northern Europe, and breeds also in
Iceland and the Faeroes, being resident in the last named



ea



THE FALCONS.



(89



islands. It is recorded from Novaya Zemlya, and breeds
generally throughout the mountains of Central Europe and
Russia, as high as 57 N. lat. It appears to extend across
Northern Asia to Eastern Siberia, but is much less plentiful
than in Europe, and nests rarely. It has not been recorded
from Kamtchatka, and is mostly known as a migrant in Corea
and the far east, visiting China and Northern India in winter.
Our European birds migrate to the Mediterranean countries
and North-eastern Africa, but do not penetrate so far south as
the Hobby in the latter continent.

Habits. The common name of " Stone " Falcon goes far to
explain the mode of life of the Merlin, which is essentially a
Falcon of the rocks and moors. Though feeding largely on
insects, it captures many species of birds which it "flies down "
like a thoroughbred Falcon and after the manner of the nobler
Birds of Prey. Larks and Thrushes are a favourite quarry, and
on the sea-coast in winter it raids among the Dunlins and
other shore-birds. Many writers speak of the pluck and dash
of the Merlin, but it is one of the easiest of all Hawks to
tame, and is readily trained to fly at Larks in the autumn,
while a female Merlin will take Plovers and Pigeons. It has
even been said to strike down Grouse and to be destructive
;o game, and on the latter plea many of these little Falcons
all victims to the gamekeeper's gun, but the late Mr. E. T.
Booth, one of the keenest and most energetic field-naturalists
of the century, combats this accusation and observes :
" Whether it is that my experience with regard to this bird
las been too limited to form a correct judgment, I am unable
to say, but I hardly think that they are the desperate charac-
ters that they are generally described. Those which I have
seen in the south were usually in pursuit of small birds, and
while seeking this sort of prey they are frequently captured in
the clap-nets that abound near Brighton. On the Grouse-
moors in the north I have examined the remains of the victims
that the Merlins have consumed near their nests, and I never
found anything larger than a Dunlin, which birds, with Larks,
Pipits, and large moths, principally of the egger kind, seemed
to make up their bill of fare." Lord Lilford writes : " In-
quisitiveness seems to be a prominent trait in this species, for
I have repeatedly seen wild Merlins come to observe the pro-



1 90 ALLEN'S NATURALIST'S LIBRARY.

ceedings of trained Peregrines on the wing, and more than
once noticed one hovering over hooded Hawks on their
"cadge." The Merlin seldom flies at any great height, ex-
cept, of course, when in pursuit of any soaring quarry, or
bound on a lengthy journey. In our district of Northampton-
shire, where this species is by no means rare on passage, we
generally notice it flying low along the course of our river or
tributary brooks, or along the fence-sides, in search or in
pursuit of small birds. An old Wagtail or Pipit cuts out a
Merlin's work for her; and I have often witnessed beautiful
and prolonged flights at these birds, which, generally, in the
winter season, terminated in favour of the intended victim."
Lord Lilford also disbelieves in the damage which is supposed
to be wrought by this little Falcon among young Game Birds,
as he points out very truly that the latter are jealously pro-
tected by their parents.

A curious habit of the Merlin as regards the tenacity with j
which it adheres to its nesting-place is related by Mr. Seebohm. I
He says that he has known a patch of heather, only some I
couple of yards square, which had a Merlin's nest for many
years, though no other breeding-place could be found within a
distance of eight or ten miles ; and, although the birds were j
persistently trapped or shot by the gamekeepers, year after


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