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© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki, Jouko Lehmuskallio, M. & W. von Wright: Svenska fåglar (Kansalliskirjasto, The National Library of Finland). Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.

Kestrel

Falco tinnunculus

  • Name also: Common Kestrel, European Kestrel, Eurasian Kestrel, Old World Kestrel
  • Family: Falcons – Falconidae
  • Appearance: A medium-sized, long-tailed falcon with reddish brown back and wings. Able to hover in one spot for long periods while looking for prey over open ground.
  • Size: Length 31–37 cm, wingspan 68–78 cm, weight 140–250 g.
  • Nest: In disused squirrel dreys or nests built by crows or other birds of prey; also increasingly in purpose-built open-fronted Kestrel nest boxes. Some straw etc brought to nest by female.
  • Breeding: 2–9 (average 4.8) eggs laid from late April, incubated mainly by female, for 26–29 days. Young birds learn to fly within 28–33 days.
  • Distribution: Breeds throughout Finland as far north as the open fells of Lapland. Declined from the 1950s due to environmental toxins, but numbers are now recovering, and Kestrels are a frequent sight over farmland. Present Finnish population estimated at 5,000–7,000 pairs.
  • Migration: By day. Flies south from early August, with most birds migrating in late August and early September. Spring migration March–April. Winters in Central and Southern Europe and North Africa. In good years for voles a few Kestrels may spend the winter in Finland.
  • Diet: Small mammals, birds, lizards and insects. Able to track rodents due to ability to see where they have urinated.
  • Calls: A rapid, sharp “ki-ki-ki”.

The Kestrel is protected throughout Finland, also in the Åland Islands.

Kestrels can be distinguished in all plumages by the reddish brown colouring on their backs, though this colouring is brighter on older birds (the brick red plumage on mature birds is marked with dark crosswise streaking instead of dark spots). Mature males have bluish grey tails with wide black tips. Females and juveniles have reddish brown tails with dark crosswise stripes. Kestrels’ underparts are a pale rusty yellow with lengthwise rows of spots. They have indistinct moustache-like face markings. Their wings are long and narrow with sharp tips. Their long tails help to distinguish them from Hobbies and Merlins. Their legs are yellow, their beaks are bluish with a yellow base and cere, and their eyes have brown irises and a yellow eye-ring.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

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