is the commonest daytime raptor in Europe.
It is found throughout most of temperate and tropical Europe, Asia
© Arthur Grosset
It has adapted to a wide variety of habitats but prefers shrubby,
more open country provided there are trees,
telegraph poles, buildings, etc. on which it can roost.
It seems to have benefited from the building of Motorways whose
verges provide a very good habitat for the voles which constitute
the bulk of the Kestrel's diet in Europe.
Its hunting technique involves hovering, sometimes at several levels
moving closer to the ground,
then pouncing on its prey.
The male has a grey head and tail while the female show a brown
head and has a barred tail.
with eggs, and Kestrel with a rat (?)
On the Island of La Gomera, Canary Islands,
It came every day just below our apartment,
and it wasn't alone either,at a time as many as 5 of them flew around
Kestrel hovering while hunting for prey
It took some time to get acquainted to their
sound, as they were not only making cries when they flew,
but it seemed like they already had begun their flirtation - and then
the sound was different.
We believe this to be the Falco tinnunculus canariensis,
or just Kestrel or Tornfalk in plain english
two pictures from La Gomera, Canary Islands:
Eurasian Hobby, Falco subbuteo
Falco subbuteo in Kadzidlowo. Ausust 2007
Photo: Lilly M, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Falco_subbuteo_from_Kadzidlowo.jpg
hobby feeding chicks in nest
|The Eurasian Hobby, Falco subbuteo, or just simply Hobby,
is a small slim falcon. It belongs to a rather
close-knit group of similar falcons often considered a subgenus
Its speed and aerobatic skills enable it to take swallows and
even swifts on the wing, and Barn Swallows or
House Martins have a characteristic "hobby" alarm
call. It is known to harass swallows while they are roosting
and dispersing from roosts. When not breeding, it is crepuscular,
hawking principally in the mornings and
evenings. While on migration,
they may move in small groups.
VideoBBC Natural History
Unit, Audio: Natural FX
hobby feeding on dragonfly
|Adults are slate-grey above with a dark crown and 2 short
black moustachial stripes. The throat is unstreaked
white, thighs and undertail coverts are unstreaked rufous and
rest of the underparts are whitish with black streaks.
Close views enable the red "trousers" and vent to
be seen. Sexes are similar.
Juveniles are generally much browner, with scaled upper parts
and streaked buffy thighs and undertail coverts.
The Hobby has a distinct first-summer plumage.
Scientific (OSF), Audio BBC Natural History Unit & Films@59
|It is a bird of open country such as farmland,
marshes, taiga and savannah. They are widespread in lowlands
with scattered small woods. It is an elegant bird of prey, appearing
sickle-like in flight with its long pointed
wings and square tail, often resembling a swift when gliding
with folded wings. It flies powerfully and fast.
It will take large insects, such as dragonflies, which it transfers
from talons to beak and eats while soaring
slowly in circles. It also captures small bats and small birds
like swallows, swifts, pipits etc. in flight.
Hobbies nest in old nests of crows and other birds. The tree
selected is most often one in a hedge or on the
extreme edge of a spinney, whence the bird can observe intruders
from a considerable distance.
It lays 2-4 eggs. Incubation is said to take 28 days and both
parents share in this duty, though the female
does the greater part.
Merlin, Falco columbarius, Alberta, Canada
|The Merlin, Falco columbarius, is a small species of falcon
from the Northern Hemisphere.
A bird of prey once known colloquially as a pigeon hawk in North
America, the Merlin breeds in the northern
Holarctic; some migrate
to subtropical and northern tropical regions in winter.
Photo: Raj Boora, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Falco_columbarius_Male.jpg
|The Merlin is 2433 cm long with a 5067
cm wingspan. Compared to other small falcons, it is more robust
and heavily built. Males average at about 165 g and females
are typically about 230 g. There is considerable
variation, however, throughout the birds' range andin
particular in migratory
populationsover the course
of a year. Thus, adult males may weigh 150210 g , and
females 190255 g. Such sexual dimorphism is
common among raptors; it allows males and females to hunt different
prey animals and decreases the territory
size needed to feed a mated pair.
Video: © BBC Natural History Audio Audio credits
© Natural FX & © The British Library Sound
The male Merlin has a blue-grey back, ranging from almost black
to silver-grey in different subspecies.
Its underparts are buff- to orange-tinted and more or less heavily
streaked with black to reddish brown.
The female and immature are brownish-grey to dark brown above,
and whitish buff spotted with brown below.
Besides a weak whitish supercilium and the faint dark malar
stripewhich are barely recognizable in both the palest
and the darkest birdsthe face of the Merlin is less strongly
patterned than in most other falcons.
Nestlings are covered in pale buff down feathers, shading to
whitish on the belly.
Video: BBC Natural History Unit, Audio: BBC Natural History Unit
& Natural FX
|The first modern taxonomist
to describe the Merlin was Carl Linnaeus, a Swede who reported
his type specimen came from America. Thirteen years after Linnaeus's
description Marmaduke Tunstall recognized the Eurasian birds
as a distinct taxon aesalon in his Ornithologica Britannica.
If two species of Merlins are recognized, the Old World birds
would thus bear the scientific name Falco aesalon.
Falco columbarius columbarius, Taiga Merlin, Tundra
Canada and northernmost USA east of Rocky Mountains, except
Great Plains. Migratory,
winters in S North America, Central America, the Caribbean,
and N South America from the Guyanas to the northern Andes foothills.
Rarely winters in the northern USA.
Falco columbarius richardsoni, Prairie Merlin
Great Plains from Alberta to Wyoming. Resident (some winter
Falco columbarius suckleyi, Coastal Forest Merlin,
Pacific coast of North America, from S Alaska to N Washington
state. Resident (some altitudinal movements).
Falco columbarius/aesalon aesalon, Northern Eurasia from
British Isles through Scandinavia to central Siberia. Population
of northern Britain shows evidence of gene flow from subaesalon.
British Isles population resident, rest migratory;
winters in Europe and the Mediterranean region to about Iran.
Falco columbarius/aesalon subaesalon, smyril (Faroese),
Iceland and Faroe Islands. Latter population has some gene flow
with aesalon. Resident (some winter dispersal). Falco
columbarius/aesalon pallidus, Asian steppes between
Aral Sea and Altay Mountains. Migratory,
winters in S Central Asia and N South Asia.
Falco columbarius/aesalon insignis (Clark, 1907)
Siberia between Yenisei and Kolyma Rivers. Migratory,
winters in continental East Asia.
Falco columbarius/aesalon lymani, Mountains of
eastern Kazakhstan and surrounding countries. Short-distance
Falco columbarius/aesalon pacificus, Russian Far
East to Sakhalin. Migratory, winters in Japan, Korea and nearby.
Red-footed Falcon, Falco vespertinus
Red-footed Falcon in Etosha Nationalpark
The Red-footed Falcon, Falco vespertinus, formerly Western
Red-footed Falcon, is a bird of prey.
It belongs to the family Falconidae, the falcons. This
bird is found in eastern Europe and Asia although its
numbers are dwindling rapidly due to habitat loss and hunting.
It is migratory,
wintering in Africa. It is a regular wanderer to western Europe,
and in August 2004 a Red-footed
Falcon was found in North America for the first time on the
island of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts.
Jutta Luft, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rotfu%C3%9Ffalke_Falco_vespertinus.jpg
|It is a medium-small, long-winged species. The
adult male is all blue-grey, except for his red undertail and
its underwings are uniformly grey. The female has a grey back
and wings, orange head and underparts,
and a white face with black eye stripe and moustaches.
Young birds are brown above and buff below with dark streaks,
and a face pattern like the female.
Red-footed Falcons are 28-34 centimetres in length with a wingspan
of 65-75 centimetres.
This is a diurnal bird of open country with some trees, often
near water. Its distinctive method of hunting is shared by the
Common Kestrel. It regularly hovers, searching the ground below,
then makes a short steep dive towards the target. The Red-footed
Falcon's main prey is large insects, but it will also take small
mammals and birds.
This falcon is a colonial breeder, reusing the old nests of
corvids, such as Rooks. It lays two to four eggs.