Upper plumage (male) bluish gray, (female) reddish brown: quills dusky, without transverse bars: third and fourth primaries of equal length: wings reaching to three-fourths the length of the tail.
Falco cyaneus, Temm. Man. d'Orn. tom.I. p. 72. Hen-Harrier and Ring-tail, Mont. Orn. Diet, and Supp. Bew. Brit. Birds, vol. I. pp. 34 and 36. Selb. Must. vol. i. p. 68. pl. 10.
Entire length (male) one foot six or seven inches, (female) one foot eight or nine inches: length of the tarsus three inches: breadth, wings extended, three feet two to four inches.
(Adult male). Head, neck, back, scapulars, and wing-coverts, bluish gray; rump white: quills black, whitish at the base: breast, belly, sides, under wing and tail-coverts, pure white, without spots of any kind: upper part of the tail ash-gray, whitish at the tip: bill bluish black: irides, cere, and feet, yellow. (Adult female). Space surrounding the eyes white: upper parts of the plumage deep brown; feathers on the head, neck, top of the back, and wing-coverts, edged with rust-red: under parts pale reddish yellow, with deep orange-brown longitudinal streaks and spots: quills dusky, barred underneath with white: tail with alternate broad bars of deep brown and pale yellowish rust. Obs. The young of both sexes resemble the old female: after the first autumnal moult, the male begins to assume the adult plumage, and exhibits a mixture of ash-gray and reddish brown; the transverse bars on the tail also gradually disappear. (Egg). White: long. diam. one inch eight lines; trans, diam. one inch four lines.
Pretty generally distributed throughout the country, but seemingly most partial to fenny districts. Preys on small birds and quadrupeds. Makes its nest on the ground; lays from three to five eggs, and hatches in the beginning or middle of June. Obs. The Ring-tail of English authors is the female of this species.