Species group: Birds of Prey
Other common names: Eurasian Kestrel; Kestrel; Windhover; European Kestrel
Scientific name: Falco tinnunculus
The Common Kestrel is the widespread Old World kestrel that was recommended to beginners in traditional English falconry. It's larger than the American Kestrel, but it's still considered a smaller falcon, and today many experts advise against a beginning falconer starting out with this species because of the challenges of managing its weight properly.
Because of the licensing and expertise required to be a responsible owner of a bird of prey, the following information is offered only as a hint of what you will need to learn to work with Common Kestrels. There is no substitute for hands-on training, which we strongly recommend that you pursue before trying to acquire any bird of prey.
In the wild, this successful species can be frequently seen hovering in mid-air in search of quarry.
Common Kestrels have only one narrow moustache mark, while American Kestrels have two well-defined marks. Adult males have gray heads and gray tails, and they can be much smaller than the browner females.
Male: 180 grams (6.3 oz.)
Female: 223 grams (7.9 oz.)
Male: 32 centimeters (13 in.)
Female: 39 centimeters (15 in.)
7 - 10 years
Behavior / temperament:
Despite its history as a beginner's bird in the early centuries of falconry, the Common Kestrel presents some behavior challenges. Third generation falconer Jemima Parry-Jones wrote in her book, Training Birds of Prey, “they make quite fun birds to take for a walk or to have as a pet...Generally they are first class at coming to the fist and sitting in trees and not much else!” These smaller falcons will be happy to conserve their energy if they think they can get away it.
Although a smaller falcon, the Common Kestrel is still a longwing and should not be shortchanged on space to spread its wings. A good pen, aviary, or mews will provide shade from direct sunlight in the summer, protection from extremes of winter weather, and good security to lock out thieves. A roof that completely covers the structure is stronger and offers more protection from high winds. Like most birds of prey, they will enjoy some clean, shallow water for bathing.
The Common Kestrel is a carnivore that needs to consume some whole prey in order to allow its digestive system to work properly. In the wild, they are known for kiting – hovering in one place, while they look for small rodents, which make up most of their prey. However, they are adaptable, and Kestrels on islands or other areas short on rodents can successfully capture items like small birds or reptiles. They have been bred successfully on a captive diet that includes such items as day old chicks and mice. With smaller falcons, you need an excellent scale and the training to understand what their weight should be and what to do about it – something you should get from hands-on experience with a more advanced falconer or rehabilitator, not from a short article. They should also be provided with water.
Written by Elaine Radford
training steps, flight weight, falconry licence
My Common Kestrel Eddie
Kestrels are amazing little creatures. They are one of the smallest Falcons in the world. They are Falcons but they are much more. Accipiter and Falcon in one bird. The usually hunt small insects or mouse but they also hunt small birds. A large female can catch a quail! I had one little boy 3 years ago. He was amazing. They learn last Kestrels are good birds for beginners BUT there is a small problem. You need to be very careful with these birds. They are small creatures. They loose weight fast so you need to know the exact weight to train these little creatures. 3 grams under the flight weight can't be good. The bird can't fly. +3 grams on the flight weight can also be a problem. The bird is too heavy to fly (this is for the male, the females are larger and the weight is much higher). The training is simple. At first you train the bird to fly to the glove. Than to fly on the lure. After that they learn to fly on pray. You need to know that Kestrels are also birds of prey. The are NOT parrots and they are not friendly as parrots so you need to have a falconry licence and you need to know all the training steps to fly these birds. Eddie learned the training steps very fast. After 2 weeks of training he flew free. He was an imprint (bird raised by human). All in one these birds are amazing and very good for beginner falconers..
From velid_falconer Feb 19 2014 4:55PM