Common kestrel

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The common kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) belongs to the family Falconidae. These common kestrel species are distributed in Indian Subcontinent, Europe, Asia and Africa.

Taxonomy of Common kestrel

  • Scientific Name: Falco tinnunculus
  • Common Name: Common kestrel
  • French: Faucon crécerelle; German: Turmfalke; Spanish: Cernícalo vulgar;
  • Other names: Eurasian Kestrel; Falco rupicolus Daudin, 1800; Falco tinnunculus interstictus;
  • Family: Falconidae › Falconiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Species author: Linnaeus, 1758
Falco tinnunculus is closely related to F. newtoni, F. punctatus, F. araeus, F. moluccensis, F. cenchroides and F. sparverius. The twelve recognized subspecies are: F. t. tinnunculus Linnaeus, 1758, F. t. perpallidus (A. H. Clark, 1907), F. t. interstinctus McClelland, 1840, F. t. objurgatus (E. C. S. Baker, 1927), F. t. canariensis (Koenig, 1890), F. t. dacotiae E. J. O. Hartert, 1913, F. t. neglectus Schlegel, 1873, F. t. alexandri Bourne, 1955, F. t. rupicolaeformis (C. L. Brehm, 1855), F. t. archeri E. J. O. Hartert & Neumann, 1932, F. t. rufescens Swainson, 1837 and F. t. rupicolus Daudin, 1800.

Indian birds - Common kestrel - Falco tinnunculus
Indian birds - Common kestrel - Falco tinnunculus
Indian birds - Falco tinnunculus hunting
Indian birds - Falco tinnunculus hunting


The common kestrel is a small bird of prey, measuring 25 to 35 cm in length and weighing 135 to 250 grams. The female bird is slightly larger and weighs 155 to 310 grams. The wingspan is 55 to 80 cm. The head and tail are grey in male kestrel. The rest of the plumage is mainly light chestnut brown with blackish spots on the upperside and brown with narrow blackish streaks on the underside. The cere, feet and the narrow ring around the eye in these kestrel species are bright yellow. The toenails, bill and iris are greyish black. The kestrel call is a fast, shrill kik-kik-kik-kik sound.


The common kestrel species inhabit fields, heaths, shrubland, wetlands, moorlands, arid savanna and marshland.

Feeding habits

The common kestrel mainly feed on small mammals, particularly voles and other rodents. They also prey on small birds.


The breeding season of these kestrel species varies depending upon the climate in their range. They nest in holes in cliffs, trees or buildings. The clutch normally contains three to six eggs. The female incubates the eggs. The male hunts and feeds the incubating female.


The common kestrel subspecies F. t. tinnunculus is distributed in Africa, Europe, Siberia, Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan and Southeast Asia. The subspecies F. t. perpallidus is distributed in Siberia, Korea and China and winters in Southeast Asia. The kestrel subspecies F. t. interstinctus occurs in China and Japan. It winters in India, Malay Peninsula, Philippines and Indonesia. The subspecies F. t. objurgatus is distributed in South India and Sri Lanka. The subspecies F. t. canariensis occurs in Madeira and Canary Islands. The common kestrel subspecies F. t. dacotiae is distributed in Canary Islands. The subspecies F. t. neglectus and F. t. alexandri are distributed in Cape Verde Islands. The subspecies F. t. rupicolaeformis occurs in Africa and Arabia. The kestrel subspecies F. t. archeri is distributed in Somalia and Kenya. The subspecies F. t. rufescens occurs in western and central Africa. The common kestrel subspecies F. t. rupicolus is distributed in Angola, Congo, Tanzania and South Africa.

Movement Patterns

The common kestrel populations in the northern ranges are migratory moving southwards for wintering. The populations in the warmer areas are mainly sedentary.

Status and conservation

The common kestrel global population is estimated to be between 4,310,000 to 6,370,000 mature individual birds. Habitat degradation, felling of trees, overgrazing, agricultural expansion, windmills and dearth of prey are the main threats to the survival of these species of birds.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated these kestrel species and has listed them as of "Least Concern".

Biological classification of Falco tinnunculus
Species:F. tinnunculus
Binomial name:Falco tinnunculus
Distribution:India Subcontinent, Europe, Asia and Africa;
Feeding habits:mainly small mammals and also passerine birds;
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern

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