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Home » Information » Grey Kestrel in Uganda (“Falco ardosiaceus”)

Grey Kestrel in Uganda (“Falco ardosiaceus”)

Grey Kestrel

What to Know About the Grey Kestrel in Uganda?

The Grey Kestrel in Uganda is one of the African birds in Uganda seen during Uganda birding-watching safaris. It is an African bird of prey belonging to the falcon family Falconidae. Its closest relatives are the banded kestrel and Dickinson’s kestrel and the three are sometimes placed in the subgenus Dissodectes.

The Grey Kestrel is a small, stocky, uniform grey bird of prey with length; 30-33cm, male weighs between 205-255g and female; 240-300g.

How Does the Grey Kestrel in Uganda Look Like?

The adult male has entirely slate grey plumage, with light scaling pattern due to pale feather edges, and narrow darker grey streaks overall.

The wings are fairly short and pointed. The tips of the primary flight feathers are blackish. This kestrel can be confused with the Sooty Falcon (Falco concolor), but the Grey Kestrel is heavier and more compact, its wings are shorter and do not reach the tip of the tail when the bird is perched.

On the underparts, flight feathers and rectrices are barred pale grey.

The large head is slightly paler than the body. The bill is black with yellow cere. The eyes are brown, surrounded by broad bare bright yellow eye ring. Legs and feet are yellow too.

The female is similar in plumage, but she is slightly larger than male. The juvenile has grey washed brown plumage, paler belly, and pale green, not yellow, facial skin.

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

The Grey Kestrel gives high-pitched, rasping trill “keek-keek-keek” at nest, and we can hear sometimes a whistling scream.

How Does the Grey Kestrel in Uganda Feed?

The Grey Kestrel feeds on various preys such as large insects, small reptiles, small birds, rodents, bats, amphibians and numerous insects.

It may sometimes eat oil palm fruits. It usually occurs singly or in pairs, but swarming termites often attract foraging flocks.

This small falcon hunts usually from high, exposed perch, mainly during the warm hours of the day, when preys are active.

Once the prey is detected, it flies down the perch and catches it on the ground, low branches or foliage. It may run along the ground for termites.

It also flies in slow prospecting flight. It is able, like most Falconidae species, to perform fast aerial chases with rapid wingbeats, and insects are often caught by aerial hawking. However, this species rarely hovers.

How Does the Grey Kestrel in Uganda Nest?

The Grey Kestrel nests in tree cavities or abandoned stick nests, but most often in cavity in huge, old stick nest of Hamerkop. It may even evict the resident birds.

How Does the Grey Kestrel in Uganda Breed?

At the beginning of the breeding season, both mates perform aerial displays. They soar together, and one of them dives at its partner which rolls and flies on its back while presenting talons to the bird above.

Copulation occurs on the nest, and both mates often roost at nest during the breeding season. They are territorial during this period.

How Does the Grey Kestrel in Uganda Reproduce?

The female lays 3-5 white eggs with darker markings. Incubation, mainly by female, lasts about one month during which the male provides her some preys at nest.

At hatching, the chicks are covered in white down. They are fed by both parents, and fledge about one month after hatching.

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