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Home » Information » Common Kestrel in Uganda (”Falco tinnunculus”)

Common Kestrel in Uganda (”Falco tinnunculus”)

Common Kestrel

What to Know About the Common Kestrel in Uganda?

The common kestrel 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. They measure Length: 32-39 cm, Wingspan: 65-82 cm, Weight: Male: 135-250 g and female: 155-315g

Common Kestrel is one of the commonest birds of prey, often seen hovering above the country while searching for prey.

How Does the Common Kestrel in Uganda Look Like?

Adult male has blue-grey head with black moustache. The upperparts are reddish-chestnut, heavily spotted with drop-like spots.

Rump and tail are bluish grey. Tail shows black subterminal bar. Tail feathers are finely white-tipped.  On the wings, primary and secondary flight feathers are blackish.

Chin is whitish. Underparts are yellowish-brown, streaked and speckled black. Under tail feathers are narrowly barred and show black subterminal band.

The hooked bill is grey and black-tipped with yellow cere. Eyes are dark brown with yellow lores and eye-ring. Legs and feet are bright yellow.

Female has browner upperparts with conspicuous dark bars. On the head, crown and nape are brown, streaked darker brown.

Tail is brown barred black. Lower back and rump may be bluish-grey. Primary flight feathers are blackish-brown.

Secondary feathers are streaked brown. Chick is covered in thick white down. Juvenile is heavily streaked.

Young get complete adult plumage at 2-3 years, and sexual maturity at one year. They can breed with subadult plumage.

How Does the Common Kestrel in Uganda Sing and Make Calls?

Common Kestrel is vocal during the breeding season. We can hear series of “kik-kik-kik-kik” higher in male. In flight, it gives some “kik-kik”.

Alarm call is a high-pitched “kii-kii-kiikii”. Contact call between parents and young at nest is a repeated shrill “ki-yiyi”.

Vocalizations are often one single call repeated in series or not, varied in pitch and frequency, according to the situation.

How Does the Common Kestrel in Uganda Feed?

Common Kestrel is an efficient hunter feeding mainly on small mammals (voles, mice) which are about 90% of the diet.

They are caught by hovering flight above the ground, waiting for the right moment before to swoop down onto the prey. It also consumes some passerines, lizards and insects.

It is able to catch some passerines in open areas but small numbers. However, it takes young birds when possible, and also lizards and insects.

Common Kestrel hunts by performing low flight, but also from perch. When the prey is detected, it swoops down onto the prey in rapid short flight.

This bird performs very typical hovering flight at height between 10 and 40m, carefully searching for prey on the ground.  It may sometimes catch some flying insects, birds or bats on the wing.

How Does the Common Kestrel in Uganda Nest?

Common Kestrel usually nests in holes or ledges on cliff or rock faces, buildings or carries. It may also use holes in trees, such as abandoned nests of other birds, and mainly Corvids.

It may sometimes nest in small colonies of up to some tens of pairs.

How Does the Common Kestrel in Uganda Breed?

Breeding season varies according to the distribution. Pair-bonds are probably for life, although the migratory birds often change of mate, but some pairs also migrate together.

How Does the Common Kestrel in Uganda Reproduce?

Female lays 3-6 eggs at two days intervals. Incubation lasts about 27-30 days, by female which is fed by the male.

Chicks are fed by both parents and fledge about 27 to 35 days after hatching. But they still depend on parents for food during 2-4 weeks more.

This species produces one brood per year, but replacement laying may occur if the first brood is destroyed.

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