See also:English name' for one of the smaller falcons . This
See also:bird, though in the
See also:form of its
See also:bill and ' Other English names are windhover and standgale (the last often corrupted into stonegale and stannell) .
See also:KESTREL length of its wings one of the true falcons, and by many ornithologists placed among them under its Linnaean name of Falco tinnunculus, is by others referred to a distinct genus Tinnunculus as T. alaudarius—the last being an epithet wholly inappropriate . We have here a case in which the propriety of the
See also:custom which requires the
See also:establishment of a genus on structural characters may seem open to question . The differences of structure which
See also:separate Tinnunculus from Falco are of the slightest, and, if insisted upon, must lead to including in the former birds which obviously differ from kestrels in all but a few characters arbitrarily chosen; and yet, if structural characters be set aside, the kestrels form an assemblage readily distinguishable by several peculiarities from all other Falconidae, and an assemblage separable from the true Falcons of the genus Falco, with its subsidiary groups Aesalon, Hypotriorchis, and the
See also:rest (see FALCON) . Scarcely any one outside the walls of an ornithological museum or library would doubt for a moment whether any bird shown to him was a kestrel or not; and Gurney has stated his belief (
See also:Ibis, 1881, p . 277) that the aggregation of
See also:species placed by
See also:Sharpe (Cat . Birds Brit .
See also:Mus. i . 423–448) under the generic designation of Cerchneis (which should properly be Tinnunculus) includes " three natural groups sufficiently distinct to be treated as at least separate subgenera, bearing the name of Dissodecles, Tinnunculus and Erythropus." Of these the first and last are not kestrels, but are perhaps rather related to the hobbies (Hypotriorchis) . The ordinary kestrel of
See also:Europe, Falco tinnunculus or Tinnunculus alaudarius, is by far the commonest bird of
See also:prey in the
See also:British Islands . It is almost entirely a summer migrant, coming from the south in early
See also:spring and departing in autumn, though examples (which are nearly always found to be birds of the
See also:year) occasionally occur in winter, some arriving on the eastern
See also:coast in autumn .
It is most often observed while
See also:hanging in the air for a minute or two in the same spot, by means of
See also:short and rapid beats of its wings, as, with
See also:head pointing to windward and
See also:expanded tail, it is looking out for prey—which consists chiefly of mice, but it will at times take a small bird, and the remains of frogs,
See also:insects and even earthworms have been found in its
See also:crop . It generally breeds in the deserted
See also:nest of a crow or
See also:pie, but frequently in rocks, ruins, or even in hollow trees—laying four or five eggs, mottled all over with dark brownish-red, sometimes tinged with orange and at other times with
See also:purple . Though it may occasionally snatch up a
See also:partridge or
See also:pheasant, the kestrel is the most harmless bird of prey, if it be not, from its destruction of mice and cockchafers, a beneficial species . Its range extends over nearly the whole of Europe from 68° N.
See also:lat., and the greater
See also:part of Asia—though the form which inhabits
See also:Japan and is abundant in
See also:China has been by some writers deemed distinct and called T. japonicus —it is also found over a
See also:great part of Africa, being, however, unknown beyond
See also:Guinea on the west and
See also:Mombasa on the east coast (Ibis, 1881, p . 457) . The
See also:southern countries of Europe have also another and smaller species of kestrel, T. tinnunculoides (the T. cenchris and T. naumanni of some writers), which is widely spread in Africa and
See also:Asia, though specimens from India and China are distinguished as T. pekinensis . Three other species are found in Africa—T. rupicola, T. rupicoloides and T. alopex—the first a
See also:common bird in the Cape, while the others occur in the interior . Some of the islands of the Ethiopian region have
See also:peculiar species of kestrel, as the T. newtoni of
See also:Madagascar, T. punctatus of
See also:Mauritius and T. gracilis of the
See also:Seychelles; while, on the opposite side, the kestrel of the Cape Verde Islands has been separated as T. neglectus . The T. sparverius, commonly known in
See also:Canada and the
See also:United States as the " sparrow-
See also:hawk," is a beautiful little bird . Various attempts have been made to recognize several species, more or less in accordance with locality, but the majority of ornithologists seem unable to accept the distinctions which have been elaborated chiefly by Bowdler Sharpe in his
See also:Catalogue and R . Ridgway (North
See also:American Birds, iii . 159–175), the former of whom recognizes six species, while the latter admits but three— T. sparverius, T. leucophrys and T. sparverioides—with five
See also:geographical races of the first, viz. the typical T. sparverius from the continent of North
See also:America except the coast of the Gulf of Mexico; T. australis from the continent of South America except the North
See also:Atlantic and Caribbean coasts; T. isabellinus, inhabiting
See also:continental America from
See also:Florida to Fr .
See also:Guiana; T. dominicensis from the Lesser
See also:Antilles as far northwards as St
See also:Thomas; and lastly T. cinnamominus from Chile and western Brazil . T. leucophrys is said to be from Haiti and
See also:Cuba; and T. sparverioides peculiar to Cuba only . This last has been generally allowed to be a
See also:good species, though Dr Gundlach, the best authority on the birds of that
See also:island, in his Contribution a la Ornitologia Cubana (1876), will not allow its validity . More recently it was found (Ibis, 1881, pp . 547–564) that T. australis and T. cinnamominus cannot be separated, that Ridgway's T. leucophrys should properly be called T. dominicensis, and his T. dominicensis T. antillarum; while Ridgway has recorded the supposed occurrence of T. sparverioides in Florida . Of other kestrels T. moluccensis is widely spread throughout the islands of the
See also:Archipelago, while T. cenchroides seems to inhabit the whole of
See also:Australia, and has occurred in
See also:Tasmania (Prot .
See also:Roy .
See also:Soc . Tasmania, 1895, pp . 7, 8) . No kestrel is found in New Zealand, but an approach to the form is made by the very peculiar Hieracidea(or Harpe)novae-zelandiae(of which a second
See also:race or species has been described, H. brunnea or H. ferox), the " sparrow-hawk," "
See also:quail-hawk " and "
See also:bush-hawk " of the colonists—a bird of much higher courage than any kestrel, and perhaps exhibiting the more generalized and ancestral type from which both kestrels and falcons may have descended . (A .
KESHUB CHUNDER SEN (KESHAVA CHANDRA SENA) (1838-188...
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