The Kestrel is the most common of the falcons seen in Britain. A familiar sight, with its pointed wings and long tail, hovering beside a roadside verge. Kestrels are in decline as a result intensive management of farmland and so it is included on the Amber List. They are very adaptable, and can survive right in the centre of cities.
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. Whereas Kestrels are not very fast in their swoop, and so rarely catch other birds 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. their diet is chiefly small mammals, Mainly Voles also insects. Kestrels do not build their own nests, but use nests built by other species, often an old Crows’ nest.
Number in Britain
Conservation Status UK
Status in UK
Migrant/Resident Breeder, Passage/Winter Visitor
Open grassland, heath, farmland, towns
4 -5 eggs
Number of broods
First clutches laid
Age at First Breeding
Maximum Recorded Age
15 years, 11 months