Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Common Kestrel - National Bird of Belgium

The Common kestrel is one of our smallest and most common birds of prey. It can often be seen hovering above road verges, either beating its wings rapidly or using the wind for its support.  It have badge for national bird of Belgium.

Interesting & Amazing fact about Common Kestrels are:

  1. It is one of the commonest birds of prey in Europe.
  2. It prefers to hunt over open grassland where it can frequently been seen hovering for its main prey of shot-tailed field voles.
  3. It has a specialized hovering hunting technique which distinguishes it from other birds of prey.
  4. They are mainly solitary birds, forming into pairs at the start of the breeding season (March/April) and staying as a family group up to 3 months after the chicks have fledged.
  5. It is one of the smaller members of the falcon family with the sexes having different plumage and the female is larger than the male.
  6. The dominant color on both sexes is brown but when reaching adult plumage the male has a slate grey head and rump and a copper brown back with diamond shape markings.
  7. The tail of the both sexes also differs with the male having a slate grey tail with one thick black bar at the end of the feathers but the female has barring all the way up the tail feathers and the color can range from buff through to a browny grey color.
  8. They hunt mainly using two techniques; hovering & perch hunting.
  9. The main prey of kestrels are field voles, mice, shrews, moles, rats, frogs, and lizards.
  10. Kestrels usually hover over one area, using their acute eyesight to spot prey. Once prey is seen the kestrel dives out of the sky, swooping down and pinning its dinner to the ground with its strong claws. When there is plenty of food, the kestrel will hunt from a perch, launching into a shallow dive when its prey is spotted
  11. Perch hunting is the preferred hunting technique in winter as less energy is expended.
  12. The kestrel diet consists largely of earthworms, beetles, grasshoppers, caterpillars and lizards but this of course depends on the type of habitat that the kestrel holds.
  13. It can be found in Europe, Asia and Africa
  14. They breed once per year and they nest on ledges, in buildings, in trees, or they use a nest that has been abandoned by another species of bird.
  15. Predators of this bird include northern goshawks, peregrine falcons, sparrow hawks, eagle owls and tawny owls.
  16. They are also known as European Kestrels, Eurasian Kestrels, Old World Kestrels and Kestrels.

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