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The National Bird of Belguim - Common Kestrel - Falco tinnunculus.

The Common Kestrel - Falco tinnunculus - is also known as the European Kestrel, Eurasian Kestrel, or Old World Kestrel. In Britain, where no other brown falcon occurs, it is generally just called "the kestrel". This species occurs over a large range. It is widespread in Europe, Asia and Africa. 

Females are noticeably larger than the male. They are  small birds of prey. Like the other Falcons, they have long wings as well as a distinctive long tail.

Their plumage is mainly light chestnut brown with blackish spots on the upperside and buff with narrow blackish streaks on the underside. The male has less black spots and streaks,  has a grey head and tail while the female, has a brown head and has a brown barred tail. All Common Kestrels have a prominent black malar stripe. The crer, feet, and a narrow ring around the eye are bright yellow. The toenails, bill and iris are dark. Juveniles look like adult females, but the underside streaks are wider; the yellow of their bare parts is paler.

When hunting, the Common Kestrel characteristically hovers above the ground, searching for prey, either by flying into the wind or by soaring using ridge lift. Common Kestrels have keen eyesight enabling them to spot small prey from a distance. Once prey is sighted, the bird makes a short, steep dive toward the target. It can often be found hunting along the sides of roads and motorways. Another hunting technique is to perch a bit above the ground cover, surveying the area.

Common Kestrels eat almost exclusively mouse-sized mammals. Other food items include smaal birds, bats, frogs, Lizards, insects and beetles.

The Common Kestrel starts breeding in spring i.e. April/May.  It is a cavity nester, preferring holes in cliffs, trees or buildings. In built-up areas, Common Kestrels will often nest on buildings. The clutch is normally 3 to 6 eggs, The eggs are abundantly patterned with brown spots. Incubation lasts between 4 weeks to one month, and only the female hatches the eggs. The male is responsible for provisioning her with food, and for some time after hatching this remains the same. Later, both parents share brooding and hunting duties until the young fledge, after 4 to 5 weeks. The family stays close together for a few weeks, up to a month or so, during which time the young learn how to fend for themselves and hunt prey. The young become sexually mature the next breeding season. Data from the UK shows nesting pairs bringing up about 2 to 3 chicks on average.

Globally, this species is not considered threatened by the IUCN.

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