(Falco palumbarius, Linn.—L'Autour, Buff.)
LENGTH of the female from one foot ten inches to two feet, the male is a third less: the bill blue, tipped with black; cere green; eyes yellow; a whitish line passes over each eye: the head and all the upper parts are of a deep brown; each side of the neck is irregularly marked with white: the breast and belly are white, with a number of wavy lines or bars of black; the tail long, of an ash colour, and crossed with four or five dusky bars; legs yellow, claws black; the wings are much shorter than the tail. Buffon, who brought up two young birds of this kind, a male and a female, makes the following observation: "That the Goshawk, before it has shed its feathers, that is in its first year, is marked on the breast and belly with longitudinal brown spots; but after it has had two moultings they disappear, and their place is occupied by transverse bars, which continue during the rest of its life." He observes further, "that though the male was much smaller than the female, it was fiercer and more vicious. Feeds on mice and small birds, and eagerly devours raw flesh; it plucks the birds very neatly, and tears them into pieces before it eats them, but swallows the pieces entire; and frequently disgorges the hair rolled up in small pellets."
The Goshawk is found in France and Germany; sometimes in England, but is more frequent in Scotland; is common in North America, Russia, and Siberia: in Chinese Tartary there is a variety which is mottled with brown and yellow. They are said to be used by the Emperor of China in his sporting excursions, when he is usually attended by his grand falconer, and a thousand of inferior rank. Every bird has a silver plate fastened to its foot, with the name of the falconer who has the charge of it, that in case it should be lost, it may be restored to the proper person; but if he should not be found, the bird is delivered to another officer called the guardian of lost birds, who, to make his situation known, erects his standard in a conspicuous place among the army of hunters. In former times the custom of carrying a Hawk on the hand was confined to men of high distinction; so that it was a saying among the Welsh, "you may know a gentleman by his Hawk, horse, and greyhound." Even the ladies in those times were partakers of this gallant sport, and have been represented in sculpture with Hawks on their hands. At present this noble diversion is wholly laid aside in this country; the advanced state of agriculture which every where prevails, and the consequent improvement and inclosure of lands, would but ill accord with the pursuits of the falconer, who requires a large and extensive range of country, where he may pursue his game without molestation to himself, or injury to his neighbour. The expence that attended this sport was very considerable, which confined it to princes and men of the highest rank. In the time of James I. Sir Thomas Monson is said to have given a thousand pounds for a cast of Hawks. In the reign of Edward III. it was made felony to steal a Hawk; to take its eggs, even in a person's own ground, was punishable with imprisonment for a year and a day, together with a fine at the king's pleasure. Such was the delight our ancestors took in this royal sport, and such were the means by which they endeavoured to secure it. Besides the bird just described, there are many other kinds which were formerly in high estimation for the sports of the field; these were principally the Falcon, the Jer-Falcon, the Lanner, the Sacre,* the Hobby, the Kestrel, and the Merlin: these are called the Long-winged Hawks, and are distinguished from the Goshawk, the Sparrowhawk, the Kite, and the Buzzard, which are of shorter wing, slower in their motions, more indolent, and less courageous than the others.
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