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This very elegant bird, which is larger than the goshawk, is a native of the cold climates of the north, and is found in Russia, Norway, and Iceland : but it is never seen in warm, and seldom in temperate climates : it is found, though rarely, in Scotland and the Orkneys. Next to the eagle, it is the most formidable, active, and intrepid of all voracious birds, and is most esteemed for falconry. It is transported from Iceland and Russia into France, Italy, and even into Persia and Turkey; nor does the heat of these climates appear to diminish its strength, or blunt its vivacity. It boldly attacks the largest of the feathered race; the stork, the heron, and the crane are easy victims: it kills hares by darting directly upon them. The female, as in all other birds of prey, is much larger and stronger than the male, which is used in falconry to catch the kite, the heron, and the crow. Its bill is much hooked, and yellow; the iris is dusky; the throat white, as is likewise the general colour of the plumage, but spotted with brown; the breast and belly are marked with lines, pointing downwards; the spots on the back and wings are larger; the feathers on the thighs are very long, and of a pure white; those of the tail are barred : the legs are of a pale blue, and feathered below the knee.
There is another of this tribe, called the PEREGRINE or PASSENGER Falcon, which is rarely met with in Britain, except in the rocks of Caernarvonshire, or the Highlands of Scotland, and consequently is but little known with us. It is as large as the moor buz
its bill is blue at the base, black at the point ; the ceres and irides are yellow; the upper rts of the body are elegantly marked with bars of blue and black; the breast is of a yellowish white, marked with a few small dusky lines; the belly, thighs, and vent are of a grayish white, crossed with dusky bands; the quills are dusky, spotted with white; the tail is finely barred with blue and black: the legs are yellow; the claws black.
Of the falcon tribe the Kite is the best known, and the most ignoble. He may be distinguished from others of the same class by his forked tail, and the slow circular eddies which he describes in the air previous to pouncing on his prey. He appears, indeed, to rest himself upon the air without making the smallest effort in flying. As, however, almost every bird of flight is able to elude his pursuit, he subsists only on accidental carnage; and may be considered as an insidious thief, who, on finding a small bird wounded, or a young chicken strayed from its mother, improves the moment of calamity to his own advantage. Sometimes indeed his hunger urges him to acts of desperation. We have seen one fly round and round, for a while, to mark a clutch of chickens, and then suddenly dart upon the unresisting little animal, and carry it off'; the parent hen in vain crying out, and the boys hooting and casting stones, to scare it from its plunder.
This bird is common in England, where it continues the whole year. It is found in various parts of Europe, in very northern latitudes, whence it retires towards Egypt before winter, in great numbers; it is said to breed there, and return in April to Europe, where it breeds a second time, contrary to the nature of rapacious birds in general. The female lays two or three eggs of a whitish colour, spotted with pale yellow, and of a roundish form.
In size the Kite is bigger than the common buzzard. He has large eyes, yellow legs and feet, and black talons. The head and back are of a pale ash hue, which is varied across the shafts of the feathers by longitudinal lines. His neck is reddish; the feathers covering the inside of the wings are red, with black spots in the centre; and the lesser rows of the wing feathers are party-coloured, black, red, and white.
The Common Buzzard, which is one of the most widely known kinds of hawk in this country, is about twenty inches in length, and four feet and a half in breadth, when measured across the expansion of the wings. The ver parts of the body are pale, varied with brown; on the upper parts dusky bars of a darker hue mark the wings and tail, the latter of which is grayish beneath, and tipped with dusky white. The legs are yellow, the claws black, and the bill lead coloured, short, and hooked.
Though strong and active, the Buzzard is so cowardly that he will fly even from the sparrow-bawk, and, when he is overtaken, will allow himself to be beaten, and cast to the ground, without making any resistance. His indolence is equal to his cowardice, as he will sit perched on the same bough during the greatest part of the day. Such is his laziness, that. he seldom constructs a nest, but contents himself with repairing the old nest of a crow, and lining it with
wool and other soft materials. Rats, mice, and often all sorts of carrion, are his articles of subsistence.
It is but fair, however, that justice should be done to the good qualities of the Buzzard. He may be tamed; and, in his domestic state, he manifests a very strong attachment to his owner. Buffon has given a highly amusing account of one which was reclaimed from the wild state by the Rector of St. Pierre de St. Belesme, and which displayed much of the sagacity and affection of a dog. “After having shut it up about six weeks,” says he, “ I began to allow it a little liberty, taking the precaution, however, to tie both the pinions of its wings. In this condition it walked out in my garden, and returned when I called it to feed. After some time, when I judged that I could trust to its fidelity, I removed the ligatures ; and fastened a small bell, an inch and a half in diameter, above its talon, and also attached to its breast a bit of copper, having my name engraved on it. I then gave it entire liberty, which it soon abused; for it took wing, and flew as far as the forest of Belesme. I gave
for lost; but four hours afterwards, I saw it rush into my hall, pursued by four or five other Buzzards, which had constrained it to seek again its asylum. After this adventure, it preserved its fidelity to me, coming every night to sleep on my window.” It would also sit by and caress him at dinner, and follow him when he was on horseback. This bird had a remarkable antipathy to wigs, and particularly to red caps, which it never failed to snatch from the wearers, and deposit in a very high tree, that served as a storehouse for its plunder. It is still more to the credit of the Buzzard that it is a most kind and assiduous parent; and Ray affirms that, should the female chance to be killed, the male will take charge of the young ones, and rear them till they can provide for themselves. The eggs of this bird are whitish spotted with yellow,