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Order Falcons/Falconiformes, Family Falcons/Falconidae

Common Kestrel/Falco tinnunculus - Second year

L 31-37 cm, WS 68-78 cm. Found in open country, on plains, by airfields, motorways, arable fields, heaths and marshes interspersed with woods or copses, also lower fells up to birch and willow zones. Food voles, insects. Nests in tree, often in old nest of corvid; or building, in hole or niche.
IDENTIFICATION: Medium-sized falcon with long wings and tail, wings rather narrow at base and slightly blunt at tips when spread. Hovers frequently with hanging tail spread like a fan. Active flight with rather looser (relaxed, mechanical) wingbeats than other falcons. General shape at times recalls Sparrowhawk, but confusion prevented by continuous flight with much less gliding, by narrower wings which are held more straight out (Sparrowhawk has somewhat flexed wings at carpals, with projecting wingbend), and plumage: back and upperwing-coverts reddish-brown, contrasting with darker flight-feathers. - Adult male: Rump and uppertail unbarred blue-grey, tail with wide dark terminal band; head greyish, finely streaked; back and upperwing-coverts deep chestnut with small black spots. - 1st-summer male: Some are distinguished by obvious dark barring of rump and uppertail. - Adult female: Rump and uppertail brown, finely barred dark, terminal tail-band somewhat broader; head brownish, distinctly streaked; upperparts warm brown, less reddish than male, barred dark rather than spotted. (Rarely, head, rump and inner tail are greyish, but tail virtually always barred.) - Juvenile: Similar to adult female but more yellowish red-brown above, and breast more boldly and diffusely streaked; a hint of a pale band along upper primary coverts often visible. A few males have (barred) blue-grey rump and uppertail.
VOICE: Main call a fast series of short, sharp notes, ‘kee-kee-kee-kee-…’, rather shorter than Hobby and Merlin calls. Young and female beg with whining, vibrant trills, ‘keerrrl…’, repeated a few times.

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