Page:Ornithological biography, or an account of the habits of the birds of the United States of America, volume 1.djvu/214

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Falco Stanleii.

PLATE XXXVI. Male and Female.

Before entering upon the description of this interesting species, allow me to submit to your consideration a few observations respecting the flight of the different species of Hawks, which I have had occasion to examine both in America and in Europe.

All such species as are usually referred to the subgenus Astur, or are most nearly allied to it, and which consequently have shorter wings, as well as longer tails, than the true Falcons, sail less frequently and less continuously in circles, and embrace a smaller space in their gyrations, than the latter birds. Their general flight is low, sometimes only a few feet above the ground, and their velocity surpasses that of the true Falcons on such occasions. Their body is more compressed and elongated, and appears to be propelled through the air chiefly by the action of their long tail. None of these birds ever glide down on their prey from a great height, with closed wings, and the rustling noise produced by Eagles or other nobler tribes of the genus. The types of this group I would consider to be the Goshawk (Falco palumbarius) and the Stanley Hawk. For the type of the True Falcons, no species could answer better than the Great-footed Hawk (Falco peregrinus).

A distinct and intermediate kind of flight belongs to such Hawks as have both a long tail and long wings. These species are able to dive through the air, either when in pursuit of their prey, or for amusement or exercise, although with less firmness of action than the True Falcons; and they fly over the earth with less velocity than the Asturs, their motions then consisting of easy flappings, or loose protracted sailings. The Hen-harrier (Falco cyaneus), the Forked-tailed Hawk (Falco furcatus), and the White-tailed Hawk (Falco dispar), are of this tribe.

It may be remarked here, that most species of Shrikes bear a great resemblance in their flight to the Asturs. But, let us return to the Stanley Hawk.

On the 5th of December 1809, I made a drawing of the male of this species, in its matured state of colouring, at Louisville, in Kentucky,