British wildlife recordings
Falco tinnunculus : Kestrel - Falconidae
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Wimborne, Dorset: OS Grid Reference(401500,100500)
Kestrel, Falco tinnunculus
The call of the Kestrel, recorded at Winbourne, Devon. Any car driver will be familiar of the sight of a small falcon seeming to be almost motionless mid-air above the verges of busy roads and motorways. It is here that the kestrel, Britain's most familiar falcon, hunts for small mammals such as field voles. It is also known to eat small birds, insects and worms. Strong aerial agility, which has earned the kestrel the alternative name of 'Windhover', is possible with the aid of a tail that forms a characteristic fan-shape. On sighting its ground-dwelling prey from above, the Kestrel is able to gradually lower itself through the air in stages, almost lift-like, till it chooses the moment to seize its prize. Kestrels use such differing locations as cliff-faces, tree cavities and concrete buildings to rear their young, often nesting in the heart of a large city. The nest itself is a shallow scrape with little if any nesting material. The female is largely responsible for incubating the clutch of four to six eggs while the male hunts to provide nourishment for the single brood. The shrill 'kee-kee-kee' call is often heard near the nest site. The bird tends to be silent in other locations. Kestrels are present throughout the British Isles although their numbers are in decline. This is partly due to the reduced availability of food and nesting sites.