One of the keepers of Wolmer-forest sent me a peregrine falcon which he shot this day on the verge of the forest, as it was devouring wood-pigeon it had just taken. The Falco Peregrinus, or Haggard Falcon, mentioned in the last page but one, is a noble species of Hawk, seldom seen in the southern counties. In winter 1766 one was killed in the neighbouring parish of Faringdon, & sent by me to Mr Pennant in N. Wales. Since that time I have met with none till now. The specimen before me is in fine preservation, not being at all injured in the shooting. It measures 42 inches & upwards from wing to wing, & 21 from bill to tail, & weighs 2 pounds & an half standing weight. This species is very robust, & wonderfully formed for rapine: it’s breast is plump, & muscular: its thighs long, & thick, & brawny; it’s legs remarkably short, & well-set: the feet are armed with most formidable sharp talons. The eye-lids, & Cere of the bill are yellow, but the Irides of the eyes are dusky the bill is thick, & hooked, & of a dark colour, & has a jagged process near the end of the upper mandible on each side. It’s tail is short in proportion to it’s bulk but the wings tho’ long, when closed, fall short of the train. From it’s large & fair proportions it may be supposed to be a female. Probably it was driven from the mountains of N. Wales, or Scotland, where it is known to breed, by the late deep snows, & rigorous weather. The plumage answers well to Brit. zoology 4: vol: 1: p: 156. For a bird of prey, this was in high case; it’s intestines very fat. In it’s craw were many barley-corns, which probably came from the crop of the wood-pigeon on which it was feeding when shot. Voracious birds, when devouring their quarry, swallow feathers, & bones, & all parts indiscriminately.
Posted by sydney on Dec 1st, 1782
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