The Bird Book/Falcons, etc

The Bird Book by Chester A. Reed
Falcons, etc: Family Falconidae


tKBa^^M^H^^^^^Ma^^^n 353. WHITE GYRFALCON. Falco island us.

Range. Arctic regions; south in winter casually to northern United States, chiefly on the coast.

Gyrfalcons are large, strong, active and fear

Gray Gyrfalcon

White Gyrfalcon


less birds, about 23 inches in length. Their food consists chiefly of hares, Ducks and Waders which abound in the far north. The present species is snowy white, more or less barred with blackish brown on the back and wings and with a few marks on the breast. They nest upon the ledges of high cliffs, laying three or four eggs of a buffy color, blotched and finely specked with reddish brown, this color often concealing the ground color. Size of eggs, 2.30 x 1.80. In America, they nest in Greenland and the Arctic regions.

354. GRAY GYRFALCON. Falco rusticolus rusticolus.

Range. Arctic regions; south in winter to northern United States.

This species is of the size of the last but the plumage is largely gray, barred with dusky. They nest more abundantly in southern Greenland than do the preceding species. The nesting habits and eggs do not differ.


Falco rusticolus gyrfalco.

Range. Arctic regions; south casually to Long Island.

This sub-species is hardly to be distinguished from the preceding; its nesting habits and eggs are identical, the nests being of sticks, lined with weeds and feathers and placed upon the most inaccessible ledges of cliffs.




Falco rusticolus obsoletus.

Range. Labrador; south casually, in winter, to Long Island.

A slightly darker variety. Eggs indistinguishable. Data. Ungava coast, Labrador, May 25, 1900. Nest a heap of seaweed and feathers on sea cliff, containing three eggs.

355. PRAIRIE FALCON. Falcon mexicanus. Range. United States west of the Missis sippi, and from Dakota and Washington southward to Mexico.



This species abounds in suitable localities, generally placing its nests upon rocky ledges and cliffs, and sometimes trees, generally upon the banks Reddish buff of some stream. The nests are masses

of sticks, lined with weeds and grasses. The three or four eggs have a reddish buff ground color, and are thickly sprinkled and blotched with reddish buff brown and chestnut; size 2.05x1.60.

356a. DUCK HAWK. Falco peregrinus anatum.

Range. Whole of North America, breeding locally, chiefly in mountainous regions, throughout its range.

This beautiful species, characterized by its black moustache, is the most graceful, fearless, and swiftest of the Falcons, striking down birds of several times its own weight, such as some of the larger Ducks. It breeds quite abundantly on the Pacific coast and in certain localities in the Dakotas, laying

its eggs on the rocky ledges. Their eggs are similar to those of the Prairie Falcon, but are

Duck Hawk

Buff or reddish buff

darker and brighter, in fact they are the darkest, brightest marked, and most beautiful of Falcon eggs ; size 2.05 x 1.55. 219



Falco peregrinus pealei.

Range. Pacific coast from northern United States north to Alaska.

A darker form of the preceding, such as occurs in this section with a great many other birds. The nesting habits and the eggs are precisely like those of the Duck Hawk.

357. PIGEON HAWK. Falco columbarius columbarius.

Pigeon Hawk

Brownish buff

Range. North America, breeding chiefly north of the United States except in some of the higher ranges along our northern border. A small Fal

con, about 11 inches long, often confused with the Sharp-shinned Hawk, but much darker and a more stoutly built bird. It is a daring species, often attacking birds larger than itself; it also feeds on mice, grasshoppers, squirrels, etc. They generally build a nest of sticks in trees, deep in the woods; less often in natural cavities of dead trees; and sometimes on rocky ledges. Their four or five eggs have a brownish buff ground color, heavily blotched with brown and chestnut. Size 1.50 x 1.22

357a. BLACK PIGEON HAWK. Falco columbarius suckleyi.

Range. Pacific coast from northern United States north to Alaska.

Very similar in appearance to the preceding, uM^MKftaaKSgraag^^HBIBI but much darker, both above and below. Its j nesting habits and eggs will not differ in any i % manner from those of the Pigeon Hawk.

357b. RICHARDSON'S PIGEON HAWK. Falco columbarius richardsoni.

Range. Interior of North America from the Mississippi to the Rockies and from Mexico to the Saskatchewan.

This species is similar to the Pigeon Hawk, but is paler both above and below, and the tail bars are more numerous and white. Their nesting habits are the same as those of the preceding species, they either building in hollow trees, or making a rude nest of sticks and twigs in the tops of trees. The eggs have a creamy ground and are sprinkled with dots and blotches of various shades of brown. Size 1.60 x 1.23. The egg figured is one of a beautiful set of four in the collection of Mr. C. W. Crandall.


Richardson's Pigeon Hawk

[358.1] MERLIN. Falco assalon.

This common European species was once accidentally taken in southern Greenland. Their eggs are generally laid on the ground on cliffs or banks.



Falco fusco-ccerulescens.

Range. Tropical America north to Mexican boundary of the United States.

This handsone and strikingly marked Falcon is found in limited numbers within the United States, but south is common and widely distributed. They nest at a low elevation, in bushes or small trees, making their rude nests of twigs, lined with a few grasses. They lay three, and sometimes four, eggs which have a creamy white ground color, finely dotted with cinnamon, and with heavy blotches of brown. Size 1.75 x 1.30.

Aplomado Falcon

Desert Sparrow Hawk


[359.1.] KESTREL. Falco tinnunculus.

Range. Whole of Europe; accidental on the coast of Massachusetts.

This species is very similar in size and coloration to the American Sparrow Hawk. They are much more abundant than the Sparrow Hawk is in this country and frequently nest about houses, in hollow trees, on rafters of barns, or on ledges and embankments. Their eggs are of a reddish buff color, speckled and blotched with reddish brown, they being much darker than those of the American Sparrow Hawk.

360a. DESERT SPARROW HAWK. Falco sparverius phalcena.

Range. Western United States from British Columbia south to Mexico. This variety is slightly larger and paler than the eastern form. There are no differences in the identification of the two varieties.



360. SPARROW HAWK. Falco sparverius.

Range. North America, east of the Rocky Mountains and north to Hudson Bay; winters from the middle portions of the United States, southward.

This beautiful little Falcon is the smallest of the American Hawks, being only 10 inches in length. They are very abundant in the east, nesting anywhere in cavities in trees, either in woods or open fields. The eggs are generally deposited upon the bottom of the

cavity with no lining; they are creamy or yellowish buff in color, sprinkled, spotted or blotched in endless variety, with reddish brown. Size 1.35 x 1.10. These birds are very noisy, especially when the young are learning to fly, uttering a loud, tinkling, "killy, killy, killy." They have a very amiable disposition, and frequently nest harmoniously in the same tree with other birds, such as Flickers and Robins.

360b. ST. LUCAS SPARROW HAWK. Falco sparverius peninsularis.

Range. Lower California.

This variety is smaller than the eastern, and even paler than the western form. Eggs identical with eastern specimens.

[361.] CUBAN SPARROW HAWK. Falco sparveroides.

A darker colored West Indian form, whose habits and nesting do not vary from those of the common Sparrow Hawk; casually taken in Florida.


Sparrow Hawk

Egg of Golden Eagle 222




~Audubon T s

362. AUDUBON CARACARA. Polyborus cherirvay.

Range. Southern border of the United States south to South America.

Range. Southern border of the United States south to South America.

A strikingly marked blackish and whitish species, much barred on the fore back and the breast, with the head and throat largely white, except for a black and somewhat crested crown. They are numerous in southern Texas and also in the interior of southern Florida, where they are resident. They build bulky, but shabby nests of sticks, weeds and grass, piled into a promiscuous heap, generally located in bushes or low trees. Their two or three eggs have a ground color varying from buff to bright cinnamon, and are dotted and blotched with all shades of brown and umber. On the whole, these eggs show a greater diversity of markings and ground color than those of any other species. Size 2.50 x 1.80.


363. GUADALUPE CARACARA. Polyborus lutosus.

Range. Gaudalupe Island and others off Lower California.

This species is somewhat like the preceding, but the plumage is duller, and the coloration more uniform. Their nesting habits and eggs do not vary essentially from those of Audubon Caracara. Mr. John Lewis Childs has a set of two eggs taken June 8, 1896, on Santa Anita Island, by Coolidge and Miller. The nest was made of sticks and situated in a giant cactus. The eggs are slightly brighter and more clearly marked than any of eherlijcay that I have ever seen.


364. OSPREY.