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Rock Kestrel

From Opus

Immature femalePhoto © by max1West Coast National Park, Western Cape, South Africa, 31 October 2017
Immature female
Photo © by max1
West Coast National Park, Western Cape, South Africa, 31 October 2017
Falco rupicolus


[edit] Identification

Adult female in flightPhoto © by BintyCape Point, South Africa, 29 June2014
Adult female in flight
Photo © by Binty
Cape Point, South Africa, 29 June2014

27–35 cm (10½-13¾ in) - Female is larger than male.

  • Black spotting on rufous upperparts.
  • Light underwing, lightly barred.
  • Gray head and tail
  • Male has broad black subterminal tail-band tipped with white.
  • Female is browner with narrow black tail bars in addition to broad black subterminal band and more streaking on crown.
  • Juvenile has head brownish, more heavily streaked with buff tips to flight feathers.

[edit] Similar Species

Male Lesser Kestrel has unspotted back, gray greater coverts and unmarked silvery-white underwings. Greater Kestrel is larger with brown head, barred, not spotted upperparts and mostly white underwings.

[edit] Distribution

Africa: from northern Angola to Democratic Republic of the Congo, southern Tanzania and South Africa.

[edit] Taxonomy

This is a monotypic species[1].
This species was formerly considered a subspecies of the Common Kestrel from which it differs in its genetic distinctiveness and reduced sexual dimorphism.

[edit] Habitat

Wide variety of habitats including fynbos, desert and cliffs; usually close to rocky outcrops.

Adult malePhoto © by CollinBaxDurbanville, Cape Town, South Africa, 19 August 2009
Adult male
Photo © by CollinBax
Durbanville, Cape Town, South Africa, 19 August 2009

[edit] Behaviour

[edit] Actions

Forages by hovering over open country, pouncing on prey on the ground. Also hunts from a perch.

[edit] Diet

Mostly of small mammals, birds, reptiles and insects.

[edit] Breeding

Monogamous. Nest is usually a scrape on cliff ledge but sometimes uses crow's nests or man-made structures where natural sites are unavailable.

[edit] Vocalisation

Metallic high-pitched kik-kik-kik. Also kreee-kreee notes.

[edit] Movements

Generally sedentary with local movements.

[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from
  2. Gill, F and D Donsker (Eds). 2015. IOC World Bird Names (version 5.3). Available at
  3. Hockey, PAR, WRJ Dean, and PG Ryan, eds. 2005. Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa. 7th ed. Cape Town: John Voelcker Bird Book Fund. ISBN 978-0620340533
  4. Orta, J., Boesman, P. & Marks, J.S. (2018). Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 8 July 2018).
  5. Sinclair, I., Hockey, P.A.R., and Arlott, N. (2005). The Larger Illustrated Guide to Birds of Southern Africa. Struik, Cape Town. ISBN 978-1775840992
  6. BF Member observations

[edit] External Links


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