Falco tinnunculus - Faucon crécerelle
- Size: 39 cm
- Wingspan: 65 à 82 cm.
- Weight: 154 à 314 g
Common Kestrel is a small falcon found in open habitats of the Old World. It is a slim-bodied bird with long, narrow wings and a long tail. In appearance, it is similar to other species of the Kestrel genus and misidentification is possible. The species is dimorphic. The adult male, smaller than the female, can be recognized by its contrasting plumage. The head is grayish on top and on the sides. Below the dark eye, ringed in yellow, a wide blackish line separates the gray ear coverts from the cream throat. The wax of the beak is very yellow. The upper parts, of a fairly vivid reddish-brown, are spotted with dark brown. The light gray tail is barred with black at its end very visibly. The gray goes up on the upper-tail coverts and the rump. The lower parts, cream at the throat and russet lower down, are clearly striated or spotted with black-brown, stripes on the chest, larger spots on the flanks. The legs are very yellow with black claws. The adult female is generally more uniform. It lacks the gray color characteristic of the male. Only the tail of older females can be gray. The upper parts are a mousey-reddish, from the beak to the tail, and more abundantly spotted. The remiges are less dark. The dark bar under the eye is less pronounced but the paler ear coverts still make it very obvious. The tail is distinctly barred with brown along its entire length, with a larger terminal bar. The chick is covered with whitish down. The juvenile resembles the female, but the plumage is duller, less warm and above all more heavily barred/spotted. The areas of bare skin are paler yellow. The immature is not easy to sex.Size is a good indication, but it is only with the appearance of grey in the plumage that we can be sure of having a male. Ten subspecies are currently recognized, which differ in size, coloration, intensity of feather spots and tail pattern.
Subspecific information 11 subspecies
- Falco tinnunculus tinnunculus (Europe and nw Africa to Siberia)
- Falco tinnunculus perpallidus (ne Siberia to ne China and Korea)
- Falco tinnunculus interstinctus (Himalayas to Japan and Indochina)
- Falco tinnunculus objurgatus (s India, Sri Lanka)
- Falco tinnunculus canariensis (Madeira and w Canary Is.)
- Falco tinnunculus dacotiae (e Canary Is.)
- Falco tinnunculus neglectus (n Cape Verde Is.)
- Falco tinnunculus alexandri (s Cape Verde Is.)
- Falco tinnunculus rupicolaeformis (ne Africa and Arabia)
- Falco tinnunculus archeri (Socotra I., Somalia, ne Kenya)
- Falco tinnunculus rufescens (West Africa to Ethiopia south to n Angola and Tanzania)
- Faucon crécerelle,
- Cernícalo vulgar,
- vörös vércse,
- sokol myšiar (pustovka),
- poštolka obecná,
- xoriguer comú,
- pustułka (zwyczajna),
- lauku piekūns,
- Alap-alap erasia,
Voice song and cries
The species is usually quiet outside of the breeding season. The usual call, which can be considered an alarm call, is a rapid succession of high-pitched ringing notes ki ki ki ki ki kik that sometimes resembles the call of a woodpecker. During the breeding season, the pair produce sharp territorial tsik calls, emitted while in flight or perched, as well as long and piercing contact cries which can be translated as kiiih kiiih kiiih kiiih... at a relatively slow pace, with many variations on the same theme. At the nest, the couple's repertoire in the intimacy diversifies during 'parades' and mating. They are always series of cries like the previous ones, but with great variability in timbre and tone. The male bringing in food calls to the female at the nest with small tsics.
The Common Kestrel is a highly adaptable species which goes well with many different landscapes. In fact, it is found from sea level to over 3,000 meters of altitude, from semi-deserts to sub-arctic regions.
Behaviour character trait
The Common Kestrel is a resident bird in most of its range. Only the northernmost populations are migratory. It is a rather solitary bird outside of the breeding period. It reproduces in isolated and territorial pairs, while closely related species such as the Lesser Kestrel are more or less colonial. Being a large consumer of small rodents, particularly voles, it is a valuable aid to agriculture in limiting their populations, even if it is overwhelmed by their abundance during episodic outbreaks. But it is not alone. It is well known and recognized for its stationary hunting flight, which it systematically practices, particularly over road embankments, known for being havens for rodents.
Even if it is capable of burst of speed occasionally, the Common Kestrel has overall slow flight. It does not have the velocity of the Hobby for instance, which is about the same size.
The Common Kestrel is primarily a predator of small mammals, particularly voles, in open spaces with sparse, herbaceous vegetation.
The Common Kestrel is monogamous and reproduces in territorial pairs. The breeding period depends on the altitude and the latitude: from April to July in Eurasia and the Maghreb, and from August to December in Africa south of the Sahara. The breeding site varies depending on the context. Whenever a rocky cliff is available, it is systematically occupied, as the species is fundamentally cliff-dwelling. When there is no rocky site, the nesting is tree-dwelling. In general, it is an old crow's nest that is occupied. Secondly, the species has adapted to human habitation and now commonly nests in old buildings with nesting cavities, towers, castles, bridges, large buildings, old farms, ruins, etc.
The Common Kestrel can be observed across Eurasia and most of northern Africa. It is absent from the Americas and Oceania. 10 subspecies share this vast space, 4 of them only in islands of the Atlantic, the Azores excepted. The species does not inhabit pure desert areas such as the Sahara or Gobi. In Europe, it is found from the north of Scandinavia to the Mediterranean. In contrast, in Russia it is rare and almost absent from Siberia. In Africa, wintering birds go down as far as Angola, Zimbabwe and Tanzania. All of South Asia is occupied, Sri Lanka, Malay Peninsula included, and the Philippines in winter. The birds migrate much more the further north they nest.
Threats - protection
IUCN conservation status
in the Wild
The Common Kestrel is a common species, but its populations can only suffer from the current changes taking place due to two negative factors, climate change and human activities, which have an impact on habitats and their inhabitants. The banalisation of landscapes and the constant increase in the use of chemicals in broad agricultural systems explain the decline of the species observed in so-called developed countries such as France, where the STOC EPS monitoring shows, for example, a decline of -19% over the period 2001-2018. We can fear that this decline will continue without major changes in the functioning of our societies. For example, we may wish for an agriculture that is less impactful on ecosystems.
Sources of information
- IOC World Bird List (v13.2), Gill, F and D Donsker (Eds). 2023.
- Atlas des oiseaux de France métropolitaine. Nidification et présence hivernale. , Issa Nidal et Muller Y
- Les rapaces diurnes et nocturnes d'Europe, M. Cuisin, P. Geroudet
- Avibase, Lepage Denis
- Birds of the World, The Cornell Lab of Ornithology
- xeno-canto, Sharing bird sounds from around the world,
Translation by AI Oiseaux.net
published: 27-05-2020 - Updated: 28-10-2020
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