Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Greater Kestrel

Falco rupicoloides
Unsurprisingly, the Greater Kestrel is one of the largest Kestrel Species (though they are still small overall when compared to other birds of prey.) These members of the Falcon family measure jsut over 1ft in length, and have a wingspan of around 2.5ft.

Greater Kestrels have a range that extends across Southern and Eastern Africa. They inhabit open tracts of land, including savanna and semi-desert locations. These birds share their range with other Kestrel species, but can be identified by their larger size, white eyes, pale reddish coloring, and the dark bars that extend down their wings and tail. Males and females have identical plumage.

When it comes to hunting, the Great Kestrels wait on high perches, using their sharp eyes to locate prey in the brush below. They most commonly hunt ground-dwelling animals like lizards, insects, and rodents, but they will also occasionally catch birds in flight.

Speaking of flight, the male Kestrels put one some pretty spectacular aerial shows when it comes time to snag a mate. They dive, roll, and hover in place in hopes to attract a lady. Showing off their silvery under-wings is quite the turn on!

After breeding the eggs (up to 7 of them!) will be laid in an old nest built by another bird species. Why build your own when there are perfectly good nests just sitting around? The female does all of the incubating, and the chicks will stay with their parents for about 2 months.

IUCN Status : Least Concern
Location : Southern and Eastern Africa
Size : Body Length up to 14.5in (37cm), Wingspan up to 33in (84cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Aves -- Order : Falconiformes
Family : Falconidae -- Genus : Falco -- Species : F. rupicoloides
Image : Frank Vassen

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