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Malagasy Kestrel
Falco newtoni

Status: Lower risk

Population Trend: Increasing.

Other Names: Aldabra Kestrel (aldabranus), Madagascar Kestrel, Madagascar Spotted Kestrel, Malagasy Spotted Kestrel, Newton's Kestrel.

Falco newtoni
click to enlarge
Distribution: Afrotropical. MADAGASCAR and ALDABRA ISLAND. more....

Subspecies: 2 races. F.n. aldabranus Aldabra Island; F.n. newtoni Madagascar. more....

Taxonomy: The mitochondrial cytochrome b analysis of Groombridge et al. (2002) showed very strong support for the finding that this species and the Seychelles Kestrel, F. araea, have a common ancestor, but the relationship of these two species to the Mauritius Kestrel, F. punctatus, is still unresolved. The Aldabran race may be a relict of the dispersal of kestrels from Madagascar to Seychelles in the Pleistocene (Groombridge et al. op cit.).

Movements: Non-migratory (Bildstein and Zalles 2005).

Habitat and Habits: Occurs in any vegetation-covered opening or slash-and-burn clearing, as well as in grasslands, croplands, secondary vegetation, and in and around villages (Thiollay and Meyburg 1981, Thorstrom et al. 2003, René de Roland et a;/ 2005). Rand (1936) suggested that it actually prefers the vicinity of houses. It is uncommon in forests, where it is replaced by the Banded Kestrel. Occurs singly, or in pairs, or occasionally in small groups of up to five birds (Langrand 1990). Thiollay and Meyburg (1981) and Thiollay (1998) noted that it is rather tame. more....

Food and Feeding Behavior: In most parts of Madagascar it feeds on insects (mainly grasshoppers) and small vertebrate prey, including small rodents, birds, lizards, and frogs. René de Roland et al. (2005)found that birds in the Masoala Peninsula fed almost exclusively on plated lizards. Hunts from a perch, flying off and returning with prey caught in flight, or flying to the ground or tree trunks to pounce upon prey (Frith 1979, René de Roland et al. 2005). It also hovers and hawks prey on the wing (Siegfried and Frost 1970, Thiollay and Meyburg 1981). Foraging birds are often seen at dawn or dusk, sometimes with wintering Eleonora's and Sooty Falcons. more....

Breeding: Nesting has been recorded from September-January (Langrand 1990). Nests are placed in natural cavities in trees, rocky areas, epiphytes, palm trees, cliffs, on buildings, or often in stick nests of other birds, e.g., Pied Crows or Yellow-billed Kites (Thiollay and Meyburg 1981). Clutch size is 4 eggs (range 3-5), which are rufous-colored and averaging 33.9 x 28 mm (René de Roland et al. 2005). Eggs are laid on consecutive days. The incubation period is 27-29 days, and the nestling period is an unusually short 23-24 days (René de Roland et al. op cit.). Of identified prey items, 80.2% (n = 271) and 19.8% (n = 67) were delivered by males and females, respectively, in a study on the Masoala Peninsula by René de Roland et al. op cit. (2005). Young disperse from the natal area at about 44-45 days of age. more....

Conservation: This is the most common raptor species in Madagascar, but it is uncommon and local on Aldabra. Populations have probably increased as the result of deforestation, cultivation, and urbanization (Thorstrom and Rene de Roland 2000, Thorstrom et al. 2003). Categorized globally as a species of "Least Concern" by BirdLife International (2007).

Important References: 
Cade, T.J. 1982. Falcons of the world. Cornell University Press, Ithaca,
Dee, T.J. 1986. The endemic birds of Madagascar. International Council for
  Bird Preservation, Cambridge, UK.
Ferguson-Lees, J., and D.A. Christie. 2001. Raptors of the world. Houghton
  Mifflin, Boston, MA.
Kemp, A.C. 1994. Madagascar 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.
Milon, P., J.-J. Petter, and G. Randrianasolo. 1973. [Fauna of Madagascar.
  XXXV. Birds]. ORSTOM, Tananarive, Madagascar. (In French)
René de Roland, L.-A., J. Rabearivony, J., H. Robenarimangason, G.
  Razafimanjato, and R. Thorstrom.
2005. Breeding biology and food habits of
  the Madagascar Kestrel (Falco newtoni) in northeastern Madagascar. Journal
  of Raptor Research 39:149-155.
Robenarimangason, H. 1999. [Contribution to the biological, ecological and
  ethological study of the family Falconidae, Madasgascar Kestrel, Falco
, and Banded Kestrel, Falco zoniventris, in the western part of
  the Masoala Peninsula.] M.Sc. (equivalent), Universite d'Antananarivo,
  Antananarivo, Madagascar. (In French)
Robenarimangason, H., and L.A. René de Roland. 1988. Notes on nesting
  Madagascar Kestrels Falco newtoni on Masoala Peninsula, NE Madagascar.
  Working Group on Birds in the Madagascar Region Newsletter 8:20-21.
Siegfried, W.R., and P.G.H. Frost. 1970. Notes on the Madagascar Kestrel.
  Ibis 112:400-402.
Thorstrom, R., and L.-A. René de Roland. 2000. Status and conservation of
  raptors on the Masoala Peninsula, Madagascar. Pp. 35-41 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.
Thorstrom, R., L.-A. René de Roland, and R.T. Watson. 2003. Falconiformes
  and Strigiformes: ecology and status of raptors. Pp. 1080-1085 in S.M.
  Goodman, and J.P. Benstead (eds.), The natural history of Madagascar.
  University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL.

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

Rene de Roland, Lily-Arison

Last modified: 2/17/2011

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2022. Species account: Malagasy Kestrel Falco newtoni. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 23 Jan. 2022

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