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THE PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco peregrinus). This, also called the Blue Falcon (the hen harrier being the blue hawk), is exceedingly destructive to winged game,
and that account, in spite of the exertions of falconers, it will always be condemned to death by gamekeepers in this country. The adult female is about eighteen inches in length, and the male about fifteen. The colours are:-Beak blue, approaching to black at the point; cere and eyelids yellow; iris dark brown; top of the head and back of the neck nearly black, of which colour there is also a spot beneath the eye; back bluish slate or ash colour, the shade becoming lighter as the bird increases in age; all the upper feathers of the body barred with a darker shade of the same colour; primaries brown black, with the inner web spotted and barred with reddish white; throat white, streaked longitudinally with dark brown; breast pale reddish white with transverse hars of the same colour as the throat; under surface of the tail-feathers and coverts barred with dark brown and greyish white; legs and toes yellow, claws black. The young birds have the head and upper surface of the body of a brownish ash colour, the edge of each feather having a reddish tinge. The peregrine falcon builds on high rocks, being extremely rare in England, and not very often met with in the present day in Scotland. The eggs are from two to four in number, two inches long by one inch and eight lines broad, mottled with pale reddish brown. During the breeding season these falcons confine their attacks chiefly to aquatic birds, which are found close to their nests, but at other times of the year they destroy large quantities of grouse and partridges. These are generally pursued and struck on the wing, but Mr. Colquhoun gives an instance which came under his own observation, in which a blue falcon pursued a grouse, put up by him, into the heather, when, he says, “ it immediately alighted, searched the heather for a minute, and presently the grouse fluttered out before it. I saw the chase for about ten yards, when they ran behind a hillock, and on my going up to the place, the falcon rose, and there lay the grouse decapitated.” Such an act is, however, an exception to the general habit of the bird, and must not be relied on by the trapper.
THE COMMON BUZZARD (Buteo vulgaris), Is one of the most common of the larger varieties of the hawk tribe, which may be accounted for by the fact that it is addicted to small birds and reptiles, rather than to game; but this is only on account of its laziness, for if they come in its way, the partridge, grouse, leveret, and rabbit, are all pounced upon. Still it is not equal to the blue falcon, kite, or hen harrier in its inroads
game preserve. Its flight is somewhat slow and heavy, and it is remarkable for sitting on the topmost bough of a tree for hours, where it watches for the appearance of its prey, and on seeing it darts down upon the ground, picks it up, and carries it back to its perch to devour it. The length of the buzzard is about twentyone inches, the female being a little over, and the male somewhat under, that size. Beak bluish black, approaching to black at the point; cere yellow; iris also yellow, but varying in shade from buff to orange brown; upper part of the head and cheeks pale brown, streaked with a darker shade; all the upper parts of the body, tail, and wings, dark clove brown, the tail feathers being barred with a lighter shade, and the feathers of the other parts being edged with light brown; wing primaries brown black; chin and throat white; breast, under wing coverts, belly, and thighs, greyish white, spotted, and streaked with brown; under tail coverts white ; under surface of tail feathers greyish white, barred with wood brown ; legs and toes yellow ; claws black. The nest is in Scotland usually formed on rocks, or on the high banks of rivers, and is composed of twigs and heath, lined with wool or some similar substance. In England, the fork of a tree is generally chosen, or an old nest of some other bird—the materials used being twigs and woollen substances for lining. Here the female lays from two to four eggs, two inches three lines in length by one inch ten lines in breadth, of a dirty white colour, slightly spotted with pale brown.
The Marsh HARRIER (Circus ceruginosus),