(Falco Nisus, Linn.—L'Espervier, Buff.)
LENGTH of the male twelve inches; the female fifteen. The bill is blue, furnished with bristles at the base, which overhang the nostrils; eye bright orange; head flat at the top, and above each eye is a strong bony projection, which seems as if intended to secure it from external injury: from this projection a few scattered spots of white form a faint line running backward towards the neck: the top of the head and all the upper parts are of a dusky brown; on the back part of the head there is a faint line of white; the scapulars are marked with two spots of white on each feather; the greater quill feathers and the tail are dusky, with four bars of a darker hue on each; the inner webs of all the quills are marked with two or more large white spots; the tips of the tail feathers white; the breast, belly, and under coverts of the wings and thighs are white, beautifully barred with brown; the throat is faintly streaked with brown: legs and feet yellow; claws black.
The above is the description of a female: the male differs both in size and colour: the upper part of his body is of a dark lead colour, and the bars on his breast are more numerous. The female builds her nest in hollow trees, high rocks, or lofty ruins, sometimes in the old nest of a crow, and generally lays four or five eggs spotted with red at the thicker end.
The Sparrowhawk is very numerous in various parts of the world, from Russia to the Cape of Good Hope. It is a bold and spirited bird; but is obedient and docile, and can be easily trained to hunt Partridges and Quails; it makes great destruction among Pigeons, young poultry, and small birds of all kinds, which it will attack and carry off in the most daring manner.
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