Rock Kestrel

Falco rupicolus

Despite what its name suggests, the Rock Kestrel is at home in a wide variety of habitats and occurs all over South Africa, though they are most numerous in arid, rocky terrain and require cliffs for roosting and nesting. They hunt over open areas for birds (up to the size of doves), small mammals (including bats in flight), reptiles and invertebrates. Adults measure about 32cm in length and weigh around 215g.

Rock Kestrels are often seen sitting on conspicuous perches or hovering over open areas, using both techniques as effective hunting strategies. Pairs are monogamous and territorial, nesting on cliff ledges and lately on tall buildings in towns and cities. Clutches of 1-6 eggs are laid in spring and summer, with the female mostly responsible for the incubation process over a period of about a month. The chicks fledge about 5 weeks after hatching, with the male in turn taking most of the hunting responsibility to provision the ravenous chicks and attending female. The chicks remain with their parents for another few weeks after leaving the nest.

The Rock Kestrel is a common species and not currently in any danger of extinction. Apart from South Africa it can be found as far north on the continent as Tanzania and the DRC. At one time it was considered a subspecies of the Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus).


21 thoughts on “Rock Kestrel

  1. photobyjohnbo

    The American Kestrel is one of the few birds I know on sight from my winter stays in Arizona. They are common here and known also as a sparrowhawk in deference to their favorite meal. As always, nice photos, my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Thank you very much, John. Kestrels and falcons can be tricky to identify, what with juvenile & transitional plumages and different morphs, so it is quite an achievement to be able to identify one with ease!

      Liked by 1 person


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