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Seychelles Kestrel
Falco araeus

Status: Vulnerable

Population Trend: Declining.

Other Names: Falco araea

Falco araeus
click to enlarge
Distribution: Afrotropical. Endemic to SEYCHELLES (mostly Mahé; reintroduced to Praslin).

Subspecies: Monotypic.

Taxonomy: The mitochondrial cytochrome b gene analysis of Groombridge et al. (2002) showed very strong support for the finding that this species and the Madagascar Kestrel, F. newtoni, have a common ancestor, but the relationship of these two species to the Mauritius Kestrel, F. punctatus, is still unresolved. The molecular results indicate that the Seychelles were colonized by kestrels from Madagascar between 0.3 and 1.0 MYA (million years ago), much more recent than the origin of the Seychelles archipelago, which is estimated at 55-65 MYA. However, the intermediate Aldabra, Farquhar, and Ameriante islands may not have been exposed until the recent Pleistocene glacial cycles (Braithwaite 1984), and this enhanced the opportunity for kestrels to colonize the Seychelles from Madagascar (Groombridge et al. op cit.). more....

Movements: Non-migratory (Bildstein 2006).

Habitat and Habits: Like the Mauritius Kestrel, but to a lesser extent, this species shows some adaptations for forest dwelling (Groombridge et al. 2002), and prior to settlement by humans, the Seychelles were probably heavily forested. It favors patches of forest among granite outcrops, but is also widespread in inhabited areas in lowlands with scattered palms and buildings (Kemp and Kemp 1998). It spends much time perching on rockfaces, buildings, or among palm fronds and tree branches.

Food and Feeding Behavior: Feeds mainly on lizards, but also on small rodents, small birds, and insects. Prey is always taken from a perch (Feare et al. 1974) and is caught from branches, foliage, on the ground, or on the wing. This species does not hover like some other kestrel species, and Feare et al. (1974) suggested that such an adaptation is not suited for foraging in forest. more....

Breeding: Nests mainly in rock cavities, but also at the base of palm fronds, on buildings, or in tree holes in developed areas (Kemp and Kemp 1968).

Conservation: Formerly more common and occurring on more islands (Vesey-Fitzgerald 1940). Increasing settlement on the Seychelles, following human colonization in 1770, resulted in the clearance of native forests for commercial forestry and agriculture during the 18th and 19th centuries and a decline in the kestrel population (Cheke 1987). Numbers declined even more precipitously in the 1960s and 1970s, due to habitat degradation, persecution, predation by introduced mammals (rats and cats), and introduction in the 1950s of the Barn Owl, which became a serious predator on young and adult kestrels (Groombridge et al. 2004). Subsequently, the species has recovered to some extent (Watson 1991, Groombridge et al. op cit.). It is categorized as Vulnerable by BirdLife International. more....

Population Estimates: Based on their determination of average home range size of 82.8 hectares (n = 5), Feare et al. (1974) estimated that the island of Mahé, with a total area of 14,250 ha, could probably support more than 100 pairs of Seychelles Kestrels. During their visits to the island in January 1972 and May 1973, they actually documented 49 established pairs, but were not able to reach large portions of the island. Using data on home range size and available habitat area, Watson (1981) suggested that the largest island of Mahé could hold 370 pairs of kestrels and later (Watson 1991) estimated a total population size of 420 pairs for the island. Groombridge et al. (2004) reported that surveys in 2001 and 2002 by Kay et al. (2002) indicated that the population size was similar to estimates made in the mid-1970s. more....

Important References: 
Cade, T.J. 1982. Falcons of the world. Cornell University Press, Ithaca,
Feare, C., S.A. Temple, and J. Procter. 1974. The status, distribution,
  and diet of the Seychelles Kestrel (Falco araea). Ibis 116:548-551.
Ferguson-Lees, J., and D.A. Christie. 2001. Raptors of the world. Houghton
  Mifflin, Boston, MA.
Gaymer, R., R.A.A. Blackman, P.G. Dawson, M.J. Penny, and C.M. Penny.
  1969. The endemic birds of Seychelles, Ibis 111:157-176.
Groombridge, J.J., D.A. Dawson, T. Burke, R. Prys-Jones, M. de L. Brooke,
  and N. Shahe.
2009. Evaluating the demographic history of the Seychelles
  Kestrel (Falco araea): genetic evidence for recovery from a population
  bottleneck following minimal conservation management. Biological
  Conservation 142:2250-2257.
Kay, S., J. Millett, J. Watson, and N.J. Shah. 2002. Status of the
  Seychelles Kestrel Falco araea: a reassessment of the populations on Mahé
  and Preslin 2001-2002. BirdLife Seychelles, Victoria, Mahe, Republic of
Kemp, A.C. 1994. Seychelles Kestrel. P. 260 in del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott,
  and J. Sargatal (eds). Handbook of birds of the world. Vol. 2. New World
  vultures to guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.
Temple, S.A. 1977. The status and conservation of endemic kestrels on
  Indian Ocean islands. Pp. 74-82 in R.D. Chancellor (ed.), World Conference
  on Birds of Prey: report of proceedings. International Council for Bird
  Preservation, London.
Watson, J. 1981. Population ecology, food and conservation of the
  Seychelles Kestrel (Falco araea) on Mahé. Ph.D. dissertation. University of
  Aberdeen, Scotland.
Watson, J.. 1989. Successful translocation of the endemic Seychelles
  Kestrel Falco araea to Praslin. Pp. 363-367 in B.-U. Meyburg and R.D.
  Chancellor (eds.), Raptors in the modern world. World Working Group on Birds
  of Prey, Berlin.
Watson, J.. 1992. Nesting ecology of the Seychelles Kestrel Falco araea on
  Mahé, Seychelles. Ibis 134:259-267.
Watson, J. 2000. Dispersion in the Seychelles Kestrel Falco araea. Pp.
  697-705 in R.D. Chancellor and B.-U. Meyburg (eds.), Raptors at
  risk. World Working Group on Birds of Prey, Berlin, and Hancock House,
  Blaine, WA.

Sites of Interest:
Contains original information and nice photos.
Seychelles Kestrel photos.

Last modified: 8/3/2015

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2017. Species account: Seychelles Kestrel Falco araeus. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 20 Feb. 2017

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