Common kestrel

species of bird

The common kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) is a bird of prey species belonging to the kestrel group of the falcon family Falconidae. It is also known as the 'European kestrel', 'Eurasian kestrel', or 'Old World kestrel'. The bird lives all over Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Common kestrel
Adult male Falco tinnunculus tinnunculus
Scientific classification
Binomial name
Falco tinnunculus
Linnaeus, 1758
Western part of range of F. t. tinnunculus
(also occurs in Siberia farther east)
Yellow = breeding only, green = all-year
Typical in-flight appearance of a common kestrel
Falco tinnunculus egg

In Britain, where no other brown falcon occurs, it is generally just called 'the kestrel'.[1]



Kestrels are 32–39 cm (13–15 in) from head to tail. Their wings are 65–82 cm (26–32 in) when spread out. Females are larger. They are small compared with other birds of prey, but larger than most songbirds. Like the other Falco species, they have long wings and a long tail.[2]

Their feathers are mainly light brown with black spots on the top and buff with narrow blackish streaks on the underside.[2]

Food and feeding


When hunting, kestrels hover about 10–20 m (c.30–70 ft) above the ground. They can see the slightest movement. They can see small prey from a distance. Once they see the prey, the bird makes a short, steep dive. Kestrels eat almost any mouse-sized mammals like voles. They also eat shrews and true mice. Small birds are also eaten, mostly in the summer when young birds are born. The bird also eats spiders and beetles when it finds them.[2]


  1. Mangoverde World Bird Guide (MWBG) [2009]: Eurasian Kestrel Falco tinnunculus. [1]
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Orta, Jaume 1994. Common kestrel. In: del Hoyo, Josep; Elliott, Andrew & Sargatal, Jordi (editors): Handbook of Birds of the World, Volume 2 (New World vultures to Guineafowl): 259-260, plates 26. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. ISBN 84-87334-15-6

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