The Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculos)



The Kestrel is a small to mid-sized, slender looking falcon. Other names attributed to the Kestrel are: Eurasian Kestrel, Rock Kestrel, Alexander's Kestrel and Neglected Kestrel. In Europe the Kestrel is the most common bird of prey.


In Europe it can be confused with the similar looking Lesser Kestrel.


The Common Kestrel is still a common sight in urban areas ranging from villages to metropolitan cities where they use to breed on towers and large buildings.





Description - Characteristics: Kestrel


Breeding – Clutch – Measurements – Habitat – Diet - Threats



Order: Falconiformes

Family: Falconidae

Genus: Falco

Species: Kestrel


Scientific Name: Falco tinnunculus


Names and Synonyms of the Kestrel


Name in Deutsch: Turmfalke

Name in French: Faucon crécerelle

Name in Dutch: Torenvalk

Name in Spanish: Tärnvalk

Name in Norwegian: Tornfalk

Name in Iceland: Turnfálki

Name in Finnish: Tuulihaukka

Name in Danish: Tärnvalk

Name in Swedish: Tornfalk

Name in Polish: Pustułka

Name in Russian: Обыкновенная пустельга

Name in Arabic: العوسق

Name in Persian: دلیجه معمولی

Name in Afrikaans: Rooivalk

Name in Bengali: পাতি কেস্ট্রেল

Name in Hebrew: בז מצוי

Name in Kazakh: Кәдімгі күйкентай

Name in Malaysian: Burung Falko Padang, Burung Falko Serani, Burung Helang Kestrel

Name in Nepali: बाÄडाइ

Name in Thai: العوسق

Name in Chinese: 红隼, 红鹞子, 红鹰, 茶隼, 黄燕

Name in Chinese (traditional): 紅隼, 紅鷂子, 紅鷹, 茶隼, 茶鷹, 黃燕, 黄燕


Characteristics of the Kestrel


Distribution: Widespread distribution in Paleacrtic, Afrotropical and Indomalayan region: All countries in Europe, Russia across the Urals into Siberia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China, Middle East, Indian subcontinent, South Asia.


In Europe the Common Kestrel is distributed between the plains and the alpine region, also appearing in urban areas, villages, towns and cities, wooded country.


Movements: Most populations in Europa, southwest Asia and Africa are mostly resident, Juveniles do migrate. Otherwise short-distance migrants. Scandinavian populatons are migratory. Central European populations migrate in case of severe winters, returning to their breeding areas by April.


Habitat: Wide variety of habitats: steppe, semi-desert, tundra, towns and cities, lowlands to mountains, parkland, woodland edge, moorland, cultivation, grassland, young conifer plantations, wetlands, small islands, mountain slopes, alongside motorways. Open countryside with low vegetation as basic requirement. Breeds at sealevels of up to 3.500 m.


Behaviour: Solitary and gregarious. Usually diurnal, if necessary, also active until dusk. Distinctive flight pattern with fast jerky beats broken by glides, but distance flights are also in level flight, before terminating in glide on V-held wings; flight with rapid, shallow, winnowing beats and and frequent calling. Solitary outside breeding season.


kestrel in flight
Flying Kestrel
common kestrel egg
Egg of Common Kestrel - source: by Didier Descouens - Eigenes Werk, CC BY-SA 3.0,


Clutch: (3-) usually 4-6 (rarely up to 7) eggs.

Eggs: broad oval eggs, smooth, dull shell, white to yellowish shell mostly covered by dark brown stains.

Egg Measurements:

Length: 33.7-47.2 mm

Width: 27.5-39.2 mm

Ø: 38.7x31.0 mm (n=239)

Shell weight: 1.34-2.11 g; Ø: 1.61 g (n=200)

Egg weight: 17.5-22.1 g; Ø 19.81 (n=21)


Recurrent Clutch: Second clutch is possible, recurrent clutches only when clutch is lost during early days. Also breeding is given up if food is in decline.


Laying Interval: 2-3 days, rarely 4 days.

Begin of incubating: after third egg.

Incubation: 27-32 Tage, incubating by ♀.

Hatching: all chicken of a clutch hatch within 3-5 days.


Fledging: Chicken are huddled by ♀ during the first week. Females feeds chicken with prey brought in by ♂. This division of labour may last to 15th to 30st day. Fledging after 27-30 days.

Dependency: Juveniles leave the nest about 1 week before fledging. After fledging the juveniles fly around in the vicinity of the nest but return to the nest in the evening. The junveniles are cared for by their parents for about 4 weeks. After that they become independent and leave the breeding area.




Food: Wide variety of prey and large degree of opportunism: small mammals (mostly voles), small birds, reptiles, insects; also earth worms and amphibians. Daily food requirements are about 60-80g .


Longevity: The medium longevity of a ♀ Kestrel is about 4.5 years whereas the ♂ only reaches 2.8 years on average. The oldest kown ringed bird of a Common Kestrel reached an age of 23 years and 10 months.


Mortality: According to estimates, mortality reaches c 47% in the first half year, and after that is about 44% per year.


Threats: Most threats are based on human activities. It is mostly through highly extensive and technical agriculture harming the Common Kestrel. By use of pesticides, seed dressings containing mercury, use of poisoned baits directly harm the reproductive rate of the Common Kestrel. Another threat is through large-scale conversion of grassland into arable land. The increased use of slurry not even harms, but in the long run destroys field mouse populations which are vital to the survival of the Common Kestrel. Other threats result from traffic, illegal destruction of nests. Corvid predators also might harm the population.






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Mebs, Theodor (†), Schmidt, Daniel, Die Greifvögel Europas, Nordafrikas und Vorderasiens, Franck-Kosmos Verlag Stuttgart, 2. Auflage 2014

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Bundesamt für Naturschutz: Nationaler Vogelschutzbericht 2019 gemäß Artikel 12 Vogelschutzrichtlinie, Berichtsdaten aus dem Abschnitt Stu...U Brutvögel (pdf download)



Image Credits


Egg of the Common Kestrel - source: by Didier Descouens - Eigenes Werk, CC BY-SA 3.0,