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Aves bird of the week – Rock Kestrel – Falco rupicolus


Rock Kestrel

The Rock Kestrel - Falco rupicolus -  has recently been split from the Common KestrelFalco tinnunculus. The Rock Kestrel occurs from Angola, southern DRC and Tanzania south to southern Africa, where it is common in Namibia, South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho and central Mozambique. It occupies a wide variety of habitats, generally favouring open semi-arid and arid environments, such as grassland, Karoo and desert as well as urban centres.


A small raptor, which is mainly light chestnut brown with blackish spots on the upperside and buff with narrow blackish streaks on the underside. The male having fewer black spots and streaks, as well as a grey head and tail. The tail is brown with black bars in females, and has a black tip with a narrow white rim in both sexes. The cere, feet and a narrow ring around the eye are yellow, the bill and eye are dark. Juveniles look like adult females. It differs markedly from the other subspecies of the Falco tinnunculus complex. In particular, the females have what in other subspecies are typically male characteristics such as a grey head and tail, and spotted rather than barred upperparts. The Rock Kestrel has less heavily marked, brighter chestnut upperparts and its underparts are also a bright chestnut that contrasts with the nearly unmarked white underwings. Females tend to have more black bands in the central tail feathers than males.71[


A high pitched "whickering" ki-ki-ki-ki near the nest.


It mainly eats small birds, lizards, mammals and arthropods, either hunting from a high perch or by hovering so that it can spot prey.


In the breeding season it usually stays in areas around cliffs, which it uses for breeding and roosting. The breeding season is September to January. A solitary nester, the nest is typically a simple scrape in a hole or crack, alternatively nesting on a ledge of a cliff. The female lays between 1 to 6 eggs, which are mainly incubated by the female for between 26 to 32 days. The chicks are brooded and protected by the female while the male provides food for the whole family. The young leave the nest at between 30 to 36 days, becoming fully independent up to about 42 days later.

Conservation Status –Least Concern

A common resident in South Africa. Not threatened.


Ask Aves Birding Tours/Safaris/Adventures to create a tour for you or book on one of the following Aves Birding Tour/Safaris/Adventures see these beautiful Kestrels: -

Aves Arid Birding Tour/Safari/Adventure.

Aves Eastern Cape Birding Tour / Safari /Adventure.

Aves Highlands / Tembe Birding Tour / Safari / Adventure.

Aves KZN Birding Tour / Safari / Adventure.

Aves North East Birding Tour / Safari / Adventure.

Aves North West Birding Tour / Safari / Adventure.

Aves Western Cape Birding Tour / Safari / Adventure.

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