European Kestrel

Name

European Kestrel

Scientific Name

Falco tinnunculus

Characteristics

The Kestrel is one of only a few birds that is able to hover. It also has incredible vision that enables it to see ultraviolet light; this means that it is able to detect animals’ urine trails from far away.  So when hovering in the sky, the kestrel is not actually searching for prey but looking for the urine tracks left by its prey. Once it has detected a urine trail, the kestrel uses it to find the prey, swoops down and seizes the animal with its strong talons and beak.

Kestrels are diurnal hunters (which means that they hunt in the day).

Kestrels reach sexual maturity at about 1 year of age. After an elaborate courtship involving synchronized flying and food gifts, a pair of kestrels will mate and usually pair bond for life.

The female lay will lay 4-5 eggs in a clutch and these eggs will hatch after 26-30 days of incubation.

Kestrels can live up to 15 years of age. However, the majority of wild kestrels will not survive past 2 years of age due to road traffic accidents, predation and lack of food.

Diet

They mostly eat small mammals such as mice and voles. They occasionally eat amphibians and reptiles too.

Size Fact

The kestrel is a small bird of prey that rarely exceeds 320g in weight.

Food Fact

If food is scarce in the winter, kestrels sustain themselves by eating insects, particularly Earthworms.

Fun Fact

Kestrels can dive down onto their prey from a height of nearly 20 meters!

IUCN Red list

The kestrel is classed as ‘least concern’ on the IUCN Red List.

Where do I live?

Kestrels can be found in Europe, Africa, Asia and eastern parts of North America.

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