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Females and youngsters: indistinct face mask, buff underparts with varying degrees of streaking (most adult females tend to have only a very little bit of streaking on the side of the belly and chest). Barred grey on the back and wings.
 Similar species
Eurasia: breeds in scattered pockets in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Hungary and northern Yugoslavia, south Romania and north Bulgaria. Decreasing in western parts of range. More widespread in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia east across Asia to extreme north-west China in north-western Sinkiang.
Has bred in Sweden and may be becoming regular there, also occasionally breeds elsewhere outside main range in Poland and the Baltic States, Austria, Germany and Finland and recently in north-east France.
A summer visitor to breeding range southern Africa from southern Angola and southern Zambia south to the Cape.
Occurs on passage throughout central, east and South-East Europe as far west as North-East Spain and southern France. Also throughout Turkey and the Middle East and much of Africa. Most cross the eastern Mediterranean in mid September-early October and the return begins in March with larger numbers then seen further west. In spring regularly seen in some numbers crossing at Tunisia.
An irruptive species that often occurs outside its main breeding and passage areas in fluctuating numbers. Regularly wanders west to Britain (> 700 records), sometimes in small groups, where most occur in the south-east and during spring, especially May. As a vagrant recorded west to Ireland, Portugal, Canary Islands and Morocco.
A first-summer male found on Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts, USA by Vernon Laux on 8 August 2004 is the first North American record for this species. A photo of that bird is in the Gallery.
Breeds in steppe country with wooded areas, along forest edges and clearings, and in river valleys and cultivated areas. Often hunts over wetlands, especially on passage.
Utilizes both hovering (like an Eurasian Kestrel) for catching vertebrates including lizards, young birds, frogs, small mammals, etc., and active flight (like a Hobby) for insect catching; insects are most important for the adult bird, but nestlings are often fed invertebrates.
Often breeds in colonies in nests made by Rooks, with breeding often starting in June.
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