Home | Species Database | Species Accounts | Bibliography | Researchers | Related Sites | Login

Greater Kestrel
Falco rupicoloides

Status: Lower risk

Population Trend: Stable.

Other Names: White-eyed Kestrel.

Falco rupicoloides
click to enlarge
Distribution: Afrotropical. Three disjunct populations, including one in northwestern and southeastern ETHIOPIA and northwestern SOMALIA, another in southern KENYA and northern TANZANIA, and a third in southern and eastern ANGOLA and western ZAMBIA south through most of SOUTH AFRICA, except for the Cape Province; absent from eastern coastal areas throughout its range; accidental in West Africa (Niger). more....

Subspecies: 3 races. F. r. arthuri: Northeastern TANZANIA, KENYA; F. r. fieldi: Northern and eastern ETHIOPIA, northwestern SOMALIA; F. r. rupicoloides: NAMIBIA, BOTSWANA, southwestern ZAMBIA, and ZIMBABWE to SOUTH AFRICA.

Taxonomy: The Greater Kestrel possibly forms a superspecies with F. alopex, but Kemp (1994) pointed out that there are ecological and morphological differences between them. Based on the molecular sequences of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene, Groombridge et al. (2002) found no within-species divergence in the Greater Kestrel.

Movements: Irruptive or local migrant, with juveniles dispersing from breeding areas (Bildstein 2006). Largely sedentary, although there are local nomadic movements in the more arid portions of its range (e.g., Botswana, Namibia) in response to changing rainfall conditions (Brewster 2006). It may not be resident in Zimbabwe, where numbers fluctuate widely, with major influxes in some years from the southwest (Irwin 1981). SAFRING ring recoveries include two in Namibia over distances of 312 and 314 km, respectively, and there were recoveries at 84 and 93 km in the Transvaal (Mendelsohn 1997). more....

Habitat and Habits: Occurs in open grasslands and tree or bush savanna. Usually found singly or in pairs, but as many as 8 have been seen together in an irruption year in Zambia (Dowsett et al. 2008). more....

Food and Feeding Behavior: Mainly insectivorous, but also feeds on small birds, mammals, and a variety of invertebrates taken mainly on the ground, less often after an aerial chase, and rarely on the wing (Kemp and Kemp 1998). more....

Breeding: Nests in old stick nests of other birds, particularly Pied and Black Crows, but also of kites and secretarybirds, which are placed in low trees, on utility poles, or on electricity pylons. Clutch size is 3-5 eggs. Most of the incubation is by the female, and the male brings food to her and the chicks. The incubation period is about 32 days (Tarboton 1990). more....

Conservation: Common in southern Africa, but more local and uncommon in northeastern Africa. The range has probably expanded in southern Africa as the result of the clearing of woodlands for cultivation, but other grassland habitat has been lost to agriculture and degradation. Categorized globally as a species of "Least Concern" by BirdLife International. more....

Important References: 
Brown, L.H., E.K. Urban, and K. Newman. 1982. The birds of Africa. Vol. 1.
  Academic Press, London.
Cade, T.J. 1982. Falcons of the world. Cornell University Press, Ithaca,
Ferguson-Lees, J., and D.A. Christie. 2001. Raptors of the world. Houghton
  Mifflin, Boston, MA.
Kemp, A.C. 1994. Greater Kestrel. Pp. 261-262 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.
Mendelsohn, J.M. 1997. Greater Kestrel Pp. 266-267 in J.A. Harrison et al.
  (eds.), The atlas of South African birds. Volume 1: Non-passerines. BirdLife
  South Africa and Avian Demography Unit, Johannesburg, South Africa.

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

Simmons, Rob
van Zyl, Anthony

Last modified: 9/18/2011

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2020. Species account: Greater Kestrel Falco rupicoloides. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 4 Jun. 2020

Home | Species Database | Species Accounts | Bibliography | Researchers | Related Sites | Login

Copyright © 1999-2012 The Peregrine Fund. All Rights Reserved.