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any of several small falcons, esp the European Falco tinnunculus, that tend to hover against the wind and feed on small mammals on the ground



(Cerchneis tinnunculus), a bird of prey of the family Falconidae. The body is 31–38 cm long and weighs 160–240 g. The females are larger than the males. The back and tail of the female are reddish yellow with dark transverse stripes; the males have dark speckles above and a gray tail with a dark tip.

The kestrel is found in Europe, Asia (except the Far North), and Africa. It inhabits all zones except the tundra, living both in mountains and on the plains. In the Pamir Mountains the bird has been observed at elevations reaching 4,000 m. In the northern part of its range, the kestrel is a migratory bird. It nests in trees, using the old nests of other birds, on rocky cliffs, and in abandoned buildings. A clutch contains four or five eggs, which are incubated by both parents for 28 days. The birds leave the nest within a month. Kestrels feed on small rodents, insects, lizards, and small birds. They are useful in exterminating rodents.

References in periodicals archive ?
Increased site fidelity with increasing age or experience has been reported for Eurasian Sparrowhawks and Common Kestrels (Newton and Marquiss 1982, Village 1990, Newton and Wyllie 1992, Newton 1993).
Female American Kestrels, like Common Kestrels (Village 1990), Eurasian Sparrowhawks (Newton and Marquiss 1982), and Merlins (James et al.
American Kestrels were similar to Common Kestrels (Village 1990) and Merlins (Warkentin et al.