name = Kestrel

image_width = 250px
image_caption = Adult male Common Kestrel
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Aves
ordo = Falconiformes
familia = Falconidae
genus = "Falco" ("partim")
subdivision_ranks = Species
subdivision = See text.
The name kestrel is given to several different members of the falcon genus, "Falco". Kestrels are most easily distinguished by their typical hunting behaviour which is to hover at a height of around 10–20 m over open country and swoop down on prey, usually small mammals, lizards or large insects. Other falcons are more adapted to active hunting on the wing. In addition, kestrels are notable for usually having much brown in their plumage.

Kestrels require a slight headwind in order to hover, hence a local name of "windhover" for Common Kestrel.

Plumage often—but unusually for falcons—differs between male and female, and (as is usual with monogamous raptors) the female is slightly larger than the male. This allows a pair to fill different feeding niches over their home range. Kestrels are bold and have adapted well to human encroachment, nesting in buildings and hunting by major roads.

Kestrels do not build their own nests, but use nests built by other species.Most species termed kestrels appear to form a distinct clade among the falcons, as suggested by comparison of mtDNA cytochrome "b" sequence data (Groombridge "et al." 2002 [See there for a careful discussion of the divergence times mentioned in this article.] )and morphology. This seems to have diverged from other "Falco" around the Miocene-Pliocene boundary (Messinian to Zanclean, or about 7–3.5 mya). The most basal "true" kestrels are three species from Africa and its surroundings which lack a malar stripe, and in one case have—like other falcons but unlike other true kestrels—large areas of gray in their wings.

Approximately during the Gelasian (Late Pliocene or Early Pleistocene, around 2.5–2 mya), the main lineage of true kestrels emerged; this contains the species characterized by a malar stripe. This too seems to have evolved in Africa and subsequently spread across the Old World until they reached Australia some time during the Middle Pleistocene, less than one million years ago. This group contains several taxa found on Indian Ocean islands.

More enigmatic is a group of 3 predominantly gray species from Africa and Madagascar. These are usually considered kestrels due to their general shape and habits, but are probably more quite distinct from the true kestrels as outlined above.

The American Kestrel is the only New World species termed "kestrel". Actually, the molecular data of Groombridge "et al." (2002), as well as morphological peculiarities (like grey wings in males and a black ear-spot) and biogeography, strongly support the view that this species, among the "Falco" falcons, is not a kestrel at all in the phylogenetic sense but perhaps closer to the hobbies.

Malar-striped clade or Common Kestrel group
* Madagascar Kestrel, "Falco newtoni"
* Seychelles Kestrel, "Falco araea"
* Mauritius Kestrel, "Falco punctatus"
* Réunion Kestrel, "Falco duboisi" - extinct (c.1700)
* Spotted Kestrel, "Falco moluccensis", found in Indonesia
* Nankeen Kestrel or Australian Kestrel, "Falco cenchroides", found in Australia and New Guinea
* Common Kestrel, "Falco tinnunculus", found in Europe, Asia, and Africa
** Rock Kestrel, "Falco tinnunculus rupicolus", found in South AfricaBasal lineage(s) of true kestrels
* Greater Kestrel, "Falco rupicoloides", found in Eastern to South Africa
* Fox Kestrel, "Falco alopex", found in Equatorial Africa
* Lesser Kestrel, "Falco naumanni", found in southern Europe, India, and most of Africa except for the Sahara and equatorial forest areasAfrican gray kestrels (a more distant group)
* Grey Kestrel, "Falco ardosiaceus", found in Central to Southern Africa
* Dickinson's Kestrel, "Falco dickinsoni", found in Eastern to Southern Africa
* Banded Kestrel, "Falco zoniventris", found on MadagascarAmerican Kestrel
* American Kestrel, "Falco sparverius", found in North America and South America




External links

* [ Identification guide (PDF) by Javier Blasco-Zumeta]

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, , (Falco tinnunculus)

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • kestrel — [kes′trəl] n. [ME castrel < OFr cresserelle, quercerelle: orig. echoic] 1. either of two small, reddish gray European falcons (Falco tinnunculus or F. naumanni) that can hover in the air 2. AMERICAN KESTREL …   English World dictionary

  • Kestrel — Kes trel (k[e^]s tr[e^]l), n. [See {Castrel}.] (Zo[ o]l.) A small, slender European hawk ({Falco alaudarius}), allied to the sparrow hawk. Its color is reddish fawn, streaked and spotted with white and black. Also called {windhover} and {stannel} …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Kestrel — f English: one of the rarer female names derived from vocabulary words denoting birds that have come into use in the 20th century. The word itself derives from Old French cresserelle, apparently a derivative of cressele rattle …   First names dictionary

  • kestrel — (n.) kind of falcon, c.1600, earlier castrell (15c.), probably from M.Fr. cresserelle, which apparently is related to crecerelle rattle, from L. crepitacillium small rattle, dim. of crepitaculum noisy bell, rattle, from crepitare to crackle,… …   Etymology dictionary

  • kestrel — ► NOUN ▪ a small falcon that hunts by hovering with rapidly beating wings. ORIGIN perhaps from Old French crecerelle …   English terms dictionary

  • kestrel — /kes treuhl/, n. 1. a common small falcon, Falco tinnunculus, of northern parts of the Eastern Hemisphere, notable for hovering in the air with its head to the wind. 2. any of several related small falcons, as the American kestrel, F. sparverius …   Universalium

  • Kestrel — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Kestrel est un terme anglophone qui désigne la plupart des oiseaux appelés « crécerelle » en français. Il peut faire référence à : Kestrel …   Wikipédia en Français

  • kestrel — UK [ˈkestrəl] / US noun [countable] Word forms kestrel : singular kestrel plural kestrels a small bird of prey that kills smaller animals for food …   English dictionary

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