Kestrel Falco tinnunculus

Kestrels are one of our best known bird of prey; a familiar sight hovering over the side of the road, on the lookout for small mammals like field voles which are their favourite food. Kestrels are a little smaller than a pigeon and can be found in all kinds of habitats from open countryside to towns and villages. They nest in holes in trees, old buildings and abandoned crows nests, laying between four and five eggs, which both parents will feed when hatched.


Kestrels are typically seen hovering, their pointed wings held out. Males have a grey head and tail with a prominent black band, a gingery-brown back and a creamy underside which is speckled with black. Females are similar, but with a more uniform brown back and dark bands on the tail.


Length: 33-39cm Wingspan: 76cm Weight: 190-220g Average Lifespan: 4 years


Classified in the UK as an Amber List species under the Birds of Conservation Concern review.


Found almost everywhere.

When to see

January – December


The familiar behaviour of the kestrel gives it one of its old country names: the ‘Wind Hover’. While they hover, they have the ability to keep their head still, even in strong winds, helping them to pinpoint their prey by sight.

Common name


Species name

Falco tinnunculus

When to see in Scotland

January – December

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