Sunday, November 1, 2009
The Fox Kestrel (Falco alopex) is a bird of prey belonging to the falcon family Falconidae.
It is found in arid, open country in Africa.
It breeds in the savanna region south of the Sahara from Mali eastwards as far as Ethiopia and north-west Kenya.
It occasionally wanders west to Senegal
the Gambia and Guinea and south to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Most birds are sedentary but there is some movement northward during the wet season and southward in the dry season.
It is often found around cliffs and rocky hills.
It occurs from near sea-level to 2200 metres, especially below 1000 metres.
It has a large range of about 4 million km² but is usually uncommon.
Its total population is probably less than 100,000 pairs.
It is a large, slender kestrel with long, narrow wings and tail. It is 32–38 cm long with a wingspan of 76–88 cm and a weight of 250-300 grams.
The female is 3% larger than the male.
The plumage is dark rufous above and below with black streaks.
The tail is narrowly barred with black while the flight feathers of the wing are dark and unbarred.
The underwings are pale, contrasting with the darker body.
The eye is yellow-brown unlike the similar Greater Kestrel which has whitish eyes as well as paler plumage, barred flight feathers and grey on the tail.
Juvenile Fox Kestrels have heavier streaking than the adults and clearer barring on the tail.
The species has a high, screeching call but is usually silent outside the breeding season.