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Australian Kestrel
Falco cenchroides

Status: Lower risk

Population Trend: Stable.

Other Names: Hoverer, Mosquito Hawk, Nankeen Kestrel, Winghover.

Falco cenchroides
click to enlarge
Distribution: Australasian. AUSTRALIA, western NEW GUINEA, CHRISTMAS ISLAND (Indian Ocean), Norfolk Island, and Lord Howe Island. more....

Subspecies: 2 races. F. c. baru: West-central NEW GUINEA; F. c. cenchroides: AUSTRALIA, TASMANIA, Lord Howe Island, Norfolk Island, and Christmas Island (Indian Ocean); winters from LESSER SUNDAS and MOLUCCAS through Aru Island and southern NEW GUINEA; occasionally to NEW ZEALAND. more....

Taxonomy: Based on sequences of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene, Groombridge et al. (2002) found a close relationship between this species and the Common Kestrel, F. tinnunculus, suggesting that they have diverged recently, but over a long distance. These results coincide with the conclusions of Boyce and White (1987), who attributed very recent Pleistocene glacial events with forcing Common Kestrel stock southward from Asia. Cade (1982) considered this species to be very closely related to and possibly conspecific with the Moluccan Kestrel, F. moluccensis. The three species may represent clinal variation within the same species or a superspecies (Groombridge et al. 2002), which is consistent with a presumed spread of kestrels from Europe to Asia to Australia.

Movements: Partial migrant (Bildstein 2006). A large portion of the southern Australian migrating northward, or to coastal areas during autumn (Debus 1985, Marchant and Higgins 1993). Juveniles sometimes disperse widely (up to 800 km) after gaining independence (Debus 1998). Vagrants have been recorded north to Java and Bali. Gosper (2007) suspected that part of the population in the Richmond River District in New South Wales is sedentary, but greater numbers are present during autumn and winter. This species is also an altitudinal migrant in some areas, and some movements are in response to changes in rainfall. more....

Habitat and Habits: Widespread and common in open habitats, including urban parks, wastelands, savannas, and cultivated areas, but preferring short grass (Olsen 1995, Coates and Bishop 1997). Typically seen hovering along roads, perched on fences, wires, utility poles, dead trees, or shrubs, and on buildings in settled areas, but also occurs in treeless inland areas away from roads (Olsen op cit. 1995, Debus 1998). Usually seen singly. more....

Food and Feeding Behavior: Feeds mostly on invertebrates, particularly grasshoppers and crickets, and small mammals, small birds (up to sparrow- and starling-sized), and reptiles (lizards) (Debus 1998). Forages by hovering, soaring, or hunting from a perch, seizing prey on the ground, or in a glide, and sometimes hawks flying insects or chasing small birds (Debus op cit.).more....

Breeding: Usually nests solitarily in tree hollows and on cliffs, but also utilizes old nests of other species, ledges of buildings, on machinery, and a variety of other cavities (Debus 1998). Clutch size is 3 to 5 eggs (range 1-6), the incubation period is 28 days, and the nestling period is 31-35 days (Debus op cit.). more....

Conservation: Widespread and generally common throughout its range and may have increased in numbers in Australia (Debus 1998). Olsen (1995) also thought that populations have increased as a result of habitat clearing and increases in numbers of mice and starlings. Categorized globally as a species of "Least Concern" by BirdLife International (2007). more....

Important References: 
Cade, T.J. 1982. Falcons of the world. Cornell University Press, Ithaca,
Coates, B.J. 1985. The birds of Papua New Guinea, including the Bismarck
  Archipelago and Bougainville. Vol. I. Non-passerines. Dove Publications,
  Alderley, Queensland, Australia.
Debus, S.J.S. 1994. Australian Kestrel. P. 261 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.
Debus, S. 1998. The birds of prey of Australia: a field guide. Oxford
  University Press, Melbourne.
Ferguson-Lees, J., and D.A. Christie. 2001. Raptors of the world. Houghton
  Mifflin, Boston, MA.
Genelly, R.E. 1978. Observations on the Australian Kestrel on the northern
  tablelands of New South Wales, 1975. Emu 78:137-144.
Marchant, S., and P. Higgins (eds.). Handbook of Australian, New Zealand,
  and Antarctic birds. Vol. 2. Raptors to lapwings. Oxford University Press,
  Melbourne, Australia.
Olsen, P. 1995. Australian birds of prey. John Hopkins University Press,
  Baltimore, MD.

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

Gregory, Tim
Olsen, Jerry
Olsen, Penny

Last modified: 6/3/2010

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2021. Species account: Australian Kestrel Falco cenchroides. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 26 Oct. 2021

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