Sunday, November 1, 2009
Dickinson's Kestrel (Falco dickinsoni) is a bird of prey of southern and eastern Africa belonging to the falcon family Falconidae. It is named after John Dickinson, an English physician and missionary who collected the type specimen.
It is also known as the White-rumped Kestrel.
Its closest relatives are the Grey Kestrel and Banded Kestrel and the three
are sometimes placed in the subgenus Dissodectes.
It inhabits savanna and open woodland, particularly swampy areas near water.
It is typically associated with palm trees and is also often found near baobab trees.
It occurs in coconut plantations in some areas.
Its range covers most of Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi along with north-eastern South Africa (mainly in Kruger National Park), northern Botswana, north-east Namibia, eastern Angola, southern Democratic Republic of the Congo and parts of Tanzania.
It is an occasional visitor to Kenya.
The total range is about 3.4 million km2. It is generally rather scarce but is commoner in some areas such as Zanzibar and
Pemba Islands. Loss of palm trees is a potential threat to the species.
The Grey Kestrel (Falco ardosiaceus) 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.
It inhabits savannas, open woodland and forest clearings.
It favours areas with palm trees, especially near water.
It often perches on exposed branches, telegraph poles and wires.
It is widespread in West and Central Africa but is absent from densely forested regions including parts of the Congo Basin. Its range extends east to Ethiopia and western parts of Kenya and Tanzania.
In the south it reaches northern parts of Namibia and Zambia and vagrants have appeared in Malawi.
The total range covers about 12 million km². In West Africa there is some movement northward in the wet season and southward in the dry season.
The Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni) is a small falcon.
This species breeds from the Mediterranean across southern central Asia to China and Bangladesh. It is a summer migrant, wintering in Africa and Pakistan.
It is rare north of its breeding range, and declining in its European range.
The scientific name of this bird commemorates the German naturalist Johann Andreas Naumann.
It is a small bird of prey, 27–33 cm in length with a 63–72 cm wingspan.
It looks very much like the larger Common Kestrel but has proportionally
shorter wings and tail. It shares a brown back and barred grey underparts with the larger species.
The male has a grey head and tail like male Common Kestrels, but lacks
the dark spotting on the back, the black malar stripe, and has grey patches in the wings.
The female and young birds are slightly paler than their relative, but are
so similar that call and structure are better guides than plumage.
The call is a diagnostic harsh chay-chay-chay, unlike the Common
Kestrel's kee-kee-kee. Both sexes do not have dark talons as usual in falcons; those of this species are a peculiar whitish-horn color.
This, however, is only conspicuous when seen birds at very close range, e.g. in captivity.
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.
The Greater Kestrel or White-eyed Kestrel (Falco rupicoloides) is a bird of prey belonging to the falcon family Falconidae.
It is one of the largest kestrels and is found in open country in southern and eastern Africa.
It occurs in open, arid areas where it inhabits grassland, savannas and semi-desert.
It is often associated with acacias.
It prefers areas where the ground cover is lower than 50 cm.
It is found from sea-level up to 2 150 metres, particularly between 800 and 1800 metres.
It is fairly common and widespread in the southern parts of its range but is scarce and patchily distributed further north.
The form F. r. rupicoloides breeds in Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, parts of Angola and Zambia and in much of South Africa apart from the wetter regions
of the south and east. F. r. arthuri is found in Kenya and northern
Tanzania while F. r. fieldi occurs in Ethiopia, Eritrea, northern Somalia and probably northern Kenya.
The total range covers about 3.5 million km2.
The population is stable and is likely to be in the order of 100 000 to 200 000 pairs.
Most birds are sedentary but some are nomadic or dispersive.
The Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) 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. In Britain, where no other brown falcon occurs, it is generally just called "the kestrel".
This species occurs over a large range.
It is widespread in Europe, Asia, and Africa, as well as occasionally
reaching the east coast of North America.
But although it has colonized a few oceanic islands, vagrant individuals are generally rare; in the whole of Micronesia for example, the species was only
recorded twice each on Guam and Saipan in the Marianas.
Common Kestrels measure 32–39 cm (13-15 in) from head to tail, with a wingspan of 65–82 cm (26-32 in). Females are noticeably larger
with the adult male weighing 136-252 g (c,5-9 oz), around 155 g (around 5.5 oz) on average; the adult female weighs 154-314 g (about 5.5-11 oz), around 184 g (around 6.5 oz) on average. They are thus small compared with other birds of prey
but larger than most songbirds. Like the other Falco species
they have long wings as well as a distinctive long tail.
Falco tinnunculus is a widespread kestrel species, found throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa.
Its range spans from Great Britain
to China and as far south as South Africa. In Europe, F. tinnunculus is migratory and winters
in southern Europe and sub-saharan Africa.
However, the majority of the breeding population in Europe is non-migratory.
Common kestrels prefer open, grassy fields and farmlands, which give them sufficient open areas to hunt.
They can sometimes be found in forested areas and marshlands. Common kestrels occupy a wide range of altitudes, from sea level to almost 5000 m.
Falco tinnunculus is among the smallest of all raptors. Adults range in weight from 150 to 190 g, with females tending to be larger than males. Common kestrels have longer tails and wingspans relative to
their body size than most other falcons, which allow them to be easily distinguished from related species. Common kestrel plumage ranges from gray to brown.
The back is usually a darker color than the breast, both are covered in dark brown or black spots.
The wings are tipped in black on the dorsal side and are pale underneath.
Males often have a more bluish-gray heads and tails.
Females are more of a reddish-brown color and have
barring on the tail. In both sexes, there is a darker stripe
or spot underneath each eye.
I know falcons eat smaller birds.
I know falcons live in the zoo, and the forest.
I know falcons screeched.
A baby falcon is called a chick.
I know falcons sleep in the tree at night.
The Australian Kestrel or Nankeen Kestrel (Falco cenchroides) is one of the smallest falcons, and unlike many
does not rely on speed to catch its prey.
This bird is apparently a very close relative of the Common Kestrel, and probably also the Spotted Kestrel.
It seems to have evolved of ancestral Common Kestrels dispersing
to the Australian region
in the Middle Pleistocene--less than 1 million years ago--and adapting to local conditions.
A very common and easily seen raptor, the Nankeen Kestrel is found in Australia, New Guinea, and nearby islands, and is an irregular visitor to New Zealand.
It occupies any type of land that is not too densely vegetated, but in particular temperate grasslands and open woodlands.
In the tropical north and the sandy deserts of the west
it has a patchy and seasonal distribution.
Like many Australian birds, it has no clear migratory pattern: in the grasslands of the south, established pairs are resident year round
but many other birds migrate north during the austral winter
or roam the arid interior following food supplies.
A small, slim falcon (about 31 to 35 cm long), the Nankeen Kestrel is rufous or brown above and white or off-white below, with a black tail tip.
Plumage varies considerably in detail, and some birds can look very scruffy, but the slim build, small size and distinctive straight-winged hovering habit make identification easy.
(The only other Australasian raptors to hover are the elanid kites which are much lighter in colour and a little larger, and the Brown Falcon, which is much larger and more heavily built, and hovers only with difficulty).
Altogether, it looks just like a pale, less patterned, and smaller derivate
of the Common Kestrel, which it indeed is (see Gloger's Rule, Bergmann's Rule).
Diet is varied, with a large number of insects, but also small birds and reptiles, and in particular, small rodents, mostly mice.
Nankeen Kestrels are adaptable and hunt in a number of different ways: of these, simply perching in an exposed position
(such as on a dead tree or a telephone pole) and watching for prey is the most common, but it is their habit of hovering motionless over crop and grasslands that is most distinctive.
Typically seen singly or in pairs
they can aggregate into loose flocks of up to 30 when conditions are right. Pairs are typically monogamous and may or may not disperse to different areas during the non-breeding season.
The nest is any convenient structure: a tree hollow, cliff ledge or disused corvid's nest, for example, and is not modified or added to by the kestrels.
Spread throughout Australasia, Indomalaya, and most of Wallacea
the Spotted Kestrel inhabits grasslands with scattered trees, lightly wooded cultivation
and the edges of primary and tall secondary forest.
Along logging roads, it occasionally penetrates forests,
and sometimes inhabits clearings within forested areas. It has also been known
to live in areas of human habitation
The Réunion Kestrel (Falco duboisi) is an extinct bird of prey belonging
to the falcon family.
It inhabited the Mascarene island of Réunion and
was part of the Western Indian Ocean radiation of kestrels.
Known from subfossil bones and the writings of Dubois published in 1674
this bird was larger than its relative F. punctatus on Mauritius, being about the size of a Common Kestrel, or around 35 cm from head to tail, with males being noticeably smaller than females.
This trait, while present in most birds of prey, is most pronounced
in the larger, bird-eating species and reduces between-sex competition by niche differentiation. It can be assumed that
the bird was of the same generally brownish coloration as its closest relatives, with a lighter underside and darker spots or stipples, the tail, brown or more probably grey, being banded and tipped black. Its feet were yellow and large relative to the bird's overall size.
The wingspan was 60-70 cm
its wings being more rounded than those of the Common Kestrel - just as in the Mauritius bird - for increased maneuvrability when hunting in the forest. It is probable, but not certain, that the only difference between the sexes was their size.
The bird fed mainly on birds
but certainly also on insects and the local gecko; Dubois noted that despite their
small size they were able to prey on (presumably half-grown) domestic chickens.
The Mauritius Kestrel (Falco punctatus) is a bird of prey from the family Falconidae
endemic to the forests of Mauritius
where it is restricted to the southwestern plateau's forests, cliffs, and ravines.
It is the most distinct of the Indian Ocean kestrels.
It colonized its island home to evolve into a distinct species probably during the Gelasian (Late Pliocene.
It is the most distant living species among the
western Indian Ocean kestrels (Groombridge et al. 2002, qv Réunion Kestrel).
t can reach a size between 26 and 30.5 cm.
The weight is up to 250 grams. The males are slightly smaller than the females.
The wing is approximately 45 cm and are rounded, unlike those of other falcons.
The lifespan is 15 years in captivity.
The Mauritius Kestrel hunts by means of short, swift flights through forests.
It is carnivorous, eating geckos, dragonflies, cicadas, cockroaches, crickets, and small birds.
The mitochondrial cytochrome b gene analysis of Groombridge et al.
showed very strong support for the finding that this species and the Madagascar Kestrel, F. newtoni, have a common ancestor
but the relationship of these two species to the Mauritius Kestrel, F. punctatus, is still unresolved. The molecular results indicate that the Seychelles were colonized by kestrels from Madagascar between 0.3 and 1.0 MYA (million years ago)
much more recent than the origin of the Seychelles archipelago, which is estimated at 55-65 MYA. However, the intermediate Aldabra, Farquhar, and Ameriante islands may not have been exposed until the recent Pleistocene glacial cycles (Braithwaite 1984)
and this enhanced the opportunity for kestrels to colonize the Seychelles from Madagascar
Habitat and Habits: Like the Mauritius Kestrel, but to a lesser extent, this species shows some adaptations for forest dwelling (Groombridge et al. 2002), and prior to settlement by humans, the Seychelles were probably heavily forested.
It favors patches of forest among granite outcrops, but is also widespread in inhabited areas in lowlands with scattered palms and buildings (Kemp and Kemp 1998).
It spends much time perching on rockfaces, buildings, or among palm fronds and tree branches.
Food and Feeding Behavior: Feeds mainly on lizards, but also on small rodents, small birds, and insects. Prey is always taken from a perch (Feare et al. 1974) and is caught from branches, foliage, on the ground, or on the wing.
This species does not hover like some other kestrel species, and Feare et al. (1974) suggested that such an adaptation is not suited for foraging in forest.
Breeding: Nests mainly in rock cavities, but also at the base of palm fronds, on buildings, or in tree holes in developed areas (Kemp and Kemp 1968).
Conservation: Formerly more common and occurring on more islands (Vesey-Fitzgerald 1940). Increasing settlement on the Seychelles, following human colonization in 1770, resulted in the clearance of native forests for commercial forestry and agriculture during the 18th and 19th centuries and a decline in the kestrel population (Cheke 1987).
Numbers declined even more precipitously in the 1960s and 1970s, due to habitat degradation, persecution, predation by introduced mammals (rats and cats), and introduction in the 1950s of the Barn Owl, which became a serious predator on young and adult kestrels
Subsequently, the species has recovered to some extent
It is categorized as Vulnerable by BirdLife International.