Pigeon Hawk, a small bird of prey of the falcon subfamily and genus hypotriorchis (Boie) or msalon (Kaup), which differs from falco (Linn.) in its longer and more slender tarsi, covered in front with large hexagonal scales, and very long and slender toes. There are more than a dozen species scattered over the world, of which the two most common European representatives have been described under Hobby and Merlin; they prefer wooded cultivated districts, and usually follow in the train of the small migratory birds on which they prey; the flight is rapid and long sustained; the nest is made on trees or among rocks, and the eggs are from three to five. The American pigeon hawk, H. columbarius (Gray) or F. (cesalon) lithofalco (Gmel.), is 12 to 14 in. long and 26 in. in alar extent; the male is smaller than this. The adult bird has been described by Audubon as the little corporal hawk (F. temerarius); its general color is bluish slate, every feather with a longitudinal black line; forehead and throat white; below pale yellowish or reddish white, each feather with a longitudinal line of brownish black; the tibiae are light ferruginous, with black lines; quills black, with ashy white tips; tail light bluish ash, tipped with white, with a wide subterminal black band and several narrower bands of the same; cere and legs yellow, and bill bluish; the younger birds are dusky or blackish brown above, and the tail has four to six white bands; the variations in plumage, according to age and locality, are considerable.
It is found over all temperate North America, Central America, and the northern part of South America; it breeds in the north. It is the boldest hawk of its size, pouncing on thrushes, wild pigeons, woodpeckers, snipe, and even teals, but preying chiefly on birds of the size of the red-winged blackbird and sora rail; it has been known to attack cage birds in the porches of houses in crowded cities. According to Dr. Brewer, the eggs measure about If by l3/4 in., and are nearly spherical; the color is not a very clear white, and there are a few bold irregular dashes of light yellowish brown, chiefly about the smaller end; the nest is coarsely constructed, resembling that of a crow.
American Pigeon Hawk (Hypotriorchis columbarius).