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Grey Kestrel
Falco ardosiaceus

Status: Lower risk

Population Trend: Unknown.

Other Names: Gray Kestrel.

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Falco ardosiaceus
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Distribution: Afrotropical. SENEGAL and southern MALI, NIGER, AND CHAD east to western ETHIOPIA, western KENYA, and TANZANIA, south to ANGOLA, northern NAMIBIA, and northern ZAMBIA. Virtually allopatric with the similar Dickinson's Kestrel (Falco dickinsoni). more....

Subspecies: Monotypic.

Taxonomy: Sometimes placed in the subgenus Dissodectes with the other gray kestrels, F. dickinsoni and F. zoniventris. Since this is an Old World species, "Grey" is the preferred spelling for the vernacular name.

Movements: Partial migrant (Bildstein 2006). Mostly sedentary, but seasonal movements have been reported in West Africa, where the species moves north with the rains and south in the dry season (Gatter 1997, Borrow and Demey 2001).

Habitat and Habits: Common in moist palm savanna and woodland and also found in openings in secondary and primary forest. Forages over cultivated areas and open and burned grasslands. Spends most of its time perched on telephone and electricity lines, or on a snag in the top of a tall tree, scanning the ground for prey. Usually occurs singly, or in pairs, although foraging flocks may occasionally form in the vicinity of swarming termites. more....

Food and Feeding Behavior: Preys mainly on rodents, small birds, small reptiles, insects, and other invertebrate prey, which it takes from the ground after a dive from an exposed perch, or less ofter after an aerial pursuit. Unlike other kestrels, except for Dickinson's Kestrel, it does not hover. Smith (1957) observed these kestrels feeding in small parties on flying termites in Eritrea, Dellelegn (1994) saw 30 feeding together on termites in Ethiopia, and Dean et al. (1988) saw a bird in Angola running along the ground to capture harvester termites. more....

Breeding: Nests mostly in Hammerkop nests, or in holes in trees. It has been suggested that the distribution of the former nests is a limiting factor for the Gray Kestrel, but nests in the southern part of the range (Angola and Namibia) have in cavities in palm trees. Clutch size is 2-5, and eggs are white and oval-shaped, densely spotted with brick-red, orange-brown, umber, and lilac-gray (Clancey 1985). As with most Falco species, the male does most of the hunting, and the female performs most of the incubation duties. more....

Conservation: Uncommon throughout its range across western and central sub-Saharan Africa. This species may have benefitted from human land use and forest-clearing for agricultural purposes (Cade 1982, Brown et al. 1995), but in the southern portion of its breeding range, it is potentially threatened by the cutting of palm trees used for nesting (Brown et al. op cit.). Categorized globally as a species of "Least Concern" by BirdLife International. more....

Population Estimates: Little is known about the population size in most areas, but Jenkins and Brown (1997) estimated the number of birds resident in Namibia at about 40 pairs.

Important References: 
Brown, C.J., N. Robson, and M. Yates. 1995. Distribution, status and first
  breeding record of the Grey Kestrel in southern Africa. Journal of African
  Raptor Biology 10:52-57.
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.
Jenkins, A.R., and C.J. Brown. 1997. Grey Kestrel. P. 270 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.
Kemp, A.C. 1994. Grey Kestrel. P. 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.
Steyn, P. 1982. Birds of prey of southern Africa: their identification and
  life histories. David Phillip, Cape Town, South Africa.

Sites of Interest:
Cotnains original information and nice photos.
Grey Kestrel photos.

Last modified: 5/12/2012

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2021. Species account: Grey Kestrel Falco ardosiaceus. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 12 Jun. 2021

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