- Grey Kestrel
name = Grey Kestrel
status = LC | status_system = IUCN3.1
genus = "Falco"
species = "F. ardosiaceus"
binomial = "Falco ardosiaceus"
binomial_authority = Vieillot, 1823
The Grey Kestrel ("Falco ardosiaceus") is an
African bird of preybelonging to the falconfamily Falconidae. Its closest relatives are the Banded Kestreland Dickinson's Kestreland the three are sometimes placed in the subgenus"Dissodectes".
It is a fairly small, stocky
kestrelwith a large, flat-topped head and fairly short wings that don't reach past the tip of the tail when at rest. It is 28-33 cm long with a wingspan of 58-72 cm and a weight of up to 300 grams. The female is 4-11% larger and 5-11% heavier than the male. The plumageof the adult is uniformly dark grey apart from darker wingtips, faint dark streaking on the body and slightly barred flight feathers. The feet and cereare yellow and there is bare yellow skin around the eye. The most similar species is the Sooty Falconwhich has a more rounded head, long wings extending past the tail and less yellow around the eye.
Juvenile Grey Kestrels are browner than the adults with a greenish cere and greenish around the eye. Juvenile Dickinson's Kestrels are similar but have a barred tail and a more strongly barred underwing.
The Grey Kestrel is generally silent outside the breeding season but has a shrill, chattering call and a rattling whistle.
Habitat and range
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 Africabut is absent from densely forested regions including parts of the Congo Basin. Its range extends east to Ethiopiaand western parts of Kenyaand Tanzania. In the south it reaches northern parts of Namibiaand Zambiaand vagrants have appeared in Malawi. The total range covers about 12 million km². In West Africa there is some movement northward in the wet seasonand southward in the dry season.
It is a
crepuscularbird, most active at dawn and dusk. It generally hunts from a high perch but occasionally hovers. It feeds mainly on insects, lizards and small mammals such as bats but will also take birds, amphibians and worms. Prey is usually caught on the ground. It will sometimes feed on oil palmnuts, one of the few birds of prey to eat vegetable matter.
Breeding occurs from March to June in the north of its range and from August to December in the south. Courting pairs perform mutual soaring displays. The eggs are usually laid in the
nestof a Hamerkop; most often an unoccupied nest but occasionally Hamerkops will be forced out. Sometimes the kestrels will use the nest of another bird or a hole in a tree. There are two to five eggs in a clutch. They are whitish with reddish or brown markings and are incubated for 26-31 days. The young birds fledgeafter about 30 days.
*aut|Ferguson-Lees, James & Christie, David A. (2001) "Raptors of the World", Christopher Helm, London.
*aut|Global Raptor Information Network (2007) " [http://www.globalraptors.org/grin/SpeciesResults.asp?specID=8227 Species account: Grey Kestrel Falco ardosiaceus.] " Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 2 Aug. 2007.
*aut|Sinclair, Ian & Ryan, Peter (2003) "Birds of Africa south of the Sahara", Struik, Cape Town.
*aut|Zimmerman, Dale A.; Turner, Donald A. & Pearson, David J. (1999) "Birds of Kenya & Northern Tanzania", Christopher Helm, London.
* [http://www.kestreling.com/gallery_grey_kestrel.html Grey Kestrel ("Falco ardosiaceus") pictures]
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