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Pigeon Hawk


Pigeon Hawk


The definitive website on wildbirds & nature



Birds of America

By John James Audubon, F. R. SS. L. & E.

VOLUME I.

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Family
Genus

PIGEON HAWK.
[Merlin.]

FALCO COLUMBARIUS, Linn.
[Falco columbarius.]

PLATE XXI.--MALE AND FEMALE.

The Pigeon Hawk ranges very extensively over the United States, and extends its migrations far beyond their limits on either side. Mr. TOWNSEND found it on the Rocky Mountains, as well as along the shores of the Columbia river. Dr. RICHARDSON mentions it as not uncommon about York Factory, in latitude 57 degrees, and it is not improbable that it wanders farther, as he speaks of having seen a small Hawk on the north shore of Great Bear Lake, in latitude 66 degrees, which may have been a male as small as the one represented in my plate. I found it very abundant in the Texas early in May, when I shot as many as five on a small island in a short time.

Mr. HUTCHINS's description of the eggs of this bird, which he says are white, and from two to four in number, as well as the situation of its nest, as given in his Notes on the Hudson's Bay Birds, is greatly at variance with my own observations. The eggs in these instances, which occurred at Labrador, were five; they measured an inch and three-quarters in length, an inch and a quarter in breadth, and were rather elongated; their ground colour a dull yellowish-brown, thickly clouded with irregular blotches of dull dark reddish-brown. In that country they are laid about the first of June. In the beginning of July I found five in a nest that were ready to be hatched. The nests were placed on the top branches of the low firs peculiar to that country, about ten or twelve feet from the ground, and were composed of sticks, slightly lined with moss and a few feathers. At this season the old birds evinced great concern respecting their eggs or young, remaining about them, and shewing all the tokens of anger and vexation which other courageous species exhibit on similar occasions. The young are at first covered with yellowish down; but I had no opportunity of watching their progress, as all that were taken on board the Ripley died in a few days. This species also breeds in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

A male from the Texas. Length to end of tail 13 1/4 inches, to end of wings 11 5/12, to end of claws 11 6/12; extent of wings 26.

The mouth resembles that of the other Falcons; its breadth (9 1/2) /12ths. The tongue is short, 6/12ths long, fleshy, deeply emarginate and papillate at the base, broadly grooved above, the tip rounded and slightly emarginate. The oesophagus is 4 1/2 inches long, its width at the upper part half an inch. The stomach is very large, round, 1 1/2 inches in diameter, with a very thin muscular coat; its central tendons 4/12ths in diameter. The proventriculus is 9/12ths long; its glands very numerous, and cylindrical. The intestine is 26 3/4 inches long, (2 1/2) /12ths in its greatest diameter. There are merely two slight indications of coeca; and the cloaca is globular, with a diameter of 1 inch.

The trachea is 2 3/4 inches long, a little flattened; the rings 58, well ossified; its breadth at the upper part 3/12ths, at the lower 2/12ths. The contractor muscles cover the anterior surface entirely in the upper third, and are of moderate strength, as are the sterno-tracheales; a pair of inferior laryngeal muscles going to the membrane between the last tracheal and first bronchial half ring. The bronchial half rings are 15 and 18.

PIGEON HAWK, Falco columbarius, Wils. Amer. Orn., vol. ii. p. 107.
FALCO COLUMBARIUS, Bonap. Syn., p. 38.
PIGEON HAWK, Falco columbarius, Nutt. Man., vol. i. p. 60.
LITTLE CORPORAL HAWK, Falco temerarius, Nutt. Man., vol. i. p. 61. Adult Male.
FALCO COLUMBARIUS, Pigeon Hawk, Swains. and Rich. F. Bor. Amer., vol. ii. p. 35.
FALCO AESALON, Merlin, Swains. and Rich. F. Bor. Amer., vol. ii. p. 37.
PIGEON HAWK, Falco columbarius, Aud. Orn. Biog., vol. i. p. 466; Young, vol. i. p. 381; Male, vol. v. p. 368.

Wings from two to three inches shorter than the tail, on the middle feathers of which are five, on the lateral six, broad whitish bands. Adult male with the cere greenish-yellow, the feet pale orange, the upper parts light bluish-grey, each feather with a black central line; lower parts reddish or yellowish-white, the breast and sides with large oblong brown spots; tibial feathers light red, streaked with blackish-brown. Female with the cere and legs greenish-yellow, the upper parts dark greyish-brown, the lower pale red, spotted as in the male. Young with the head light reddish-brown, streaked with dusky, the upper parts brownish-grey, the feathers margined and spotted with pale red, throat white, lower parts pale red, streaked with brown. The tail-bands vary from pale red to white.

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