(Falco Tinnunculus, Linn.—La Cresserelle, Buff.)
THE male differs so much from the female, that we have given a figure of it from one we had in our possession, probably an old one. Length fourteen inches; breadth two feet three inches; bill blue; cere and eyelids yellow; eyes black; forehead dull yellow; top of the head, back part of the neck, and sides, as far as the points of the wings, lead colour, faintly streaked with black; the cheeks are paler; from the corner of the mouth on each side a darkish streak points downwards; back and coverts of the wings bright cinnamon brown, spotted with black;* quill feathers dusky, with light edges; inside of the wings white, beautifully spotted with brown on the under coverts, and barred on all the quills with pale ash; the under part of the body is pale rust colour, streaked and spotted with black; thighs plain; rump and upper coverts lead blue, and the tail feathers fine blue grey, with black shafts; towards the end is a broad black bar both on the upper part and under sides; the tips are white: legs yellow, claws black.
The Kestrel is widely diffused throughout Europe, and is found in the more temperate parts of North America: it is a handsome bird; with an acute sight, and easy graceful flight: it breeds in the hollows of trees, and in the holes of rocks, towers, and ruined buildings; lays four or five pale reddish eggs: feeds on small birds, field mice, and reptiles: after securing its prey, it plucks the feathers very dexterously from birds, but swallows mice entire, and discharges the hair, in the form of round balls, by its mouth. This bird is frequently seen hovering in the air, and fanning with its wings, by a gentle motion, or wheeling slowly round, watching for prey, on which it shoots like an arrow. It was formerly used in Great Britain for catching small birds and young Partridges.
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