Lesser Kestrel: description, habitat and lifestyle
A very common bird of prey, at first glance resembling a pigeon - a kestrel falcon. The name ornithologists explain as follows. It has long been popular in Russia was the hunt, which has always been attended by gyrfalcons, Saker Falcons or sparrows. Ancient hunters tried to teach this bird, but all in vain.
It is for the fact that this falcon does not catch prey in flight, unlike other predators of the sky, it was called an empty, useless bird, the kestrel. The bird's ornithological name is tinnunculus. She got it because of the voice. Singing is like the sound of "ti-ti". Height and color depend on the situation. The Latin name is translated as "ringing" or "sonorous."
Kestrel falcon (steppe, common): description
Kestrel steppe and ordinary are very similar to each other. The steppe falcon is much smaller, but at the same time much more beautiful. Photographers prefer to shoot this bird in flight, especially the male. He has incredible bright wings. The kestrel is bright red, without any spots and variegated dots. The head is bluish-gray in color, and on the wedge-shaped tail there is a black border. The striking difference of the steppe falcon is the white claws. Kestrel can hang in the sky for a long time. But for this it constantly flutters its wings. And the steppe falcon hangs motionless. Yes, and live these birds prefer colonies. They like to feed on insects, while the kestrel catches and eats rodents, less often large insects.
This bird is found in Africa and Eurasia. And in Russia, one of the most popular falcons living in the Southern Urals, Altai, Transcaucasia is an ordinary Kestrel. The habitat and lifestyle of the falcon are well studied. The bird is distributed almost throughout the entire territory of our country, except for the tundra. He likes, of course, more floodplain banks of large rivers, forest-steppe and small forest belts. Dense forests are not for her, as it produces food in open space.
In recent years, civilization is actively absorbing the natural habitat of the small falcon, so he “moved” and perfectly settled in the megalopolises of Europe. And the proximity of a person does not frighten him at all.
The Kestrel is an ordinary bird of a rather modest color. The small falcon feeds on lizards, mice, and sometimes large insects. In pursuit of prey, it can fly almost above the ground and look out for prey for a long time. Having noticed that, the bird often starts to flap its wings, freezes and swoops sharply down.
Strong claws on the paws and keen vision come to the aid of the bird in obtaining food. Kestrel has sharper eyesight than humans, more than 2,6 times. If people had the same, then the checklist of the oculist could easily be read from 90 meters! Experts say that the small falcon perfectly sees ultraviolet radiation. This gives him the opportunity to recognize the residual urine of rodents on the ground or grass. Due to which an ordinary kestrel can accurately track down and kill these animals without much effort. The Falcon family is the family to which the kestrel belongs. The detachment she has, as you know, Falcon, and the genus - Falcons.
Female and male
This bird has a pronounced sexual dimorphism. It is easy to distinguish the female from the male by the color of the head. The male has light gray shades of head feathers. The head is a simple brown color. On the back there are poorly visible black spots, mostly in the form of a diamond. The tail and part of the back near the tail are covered with bright light gray feathers. The end of the tail is edged with black stripes with a white edging. Beneath it are cream feathers and faint patches of light brown. Feathers of the belly and wing are almost white.
The female differs from the male by a beautiful transverse dark stripe running across the back. She has a brown tail with a lot of transverse stripes and a clear edging at the end. The abdomen is strewn from below and much darker.
The young male kestrel first resembles the female in color. Only the wings are slightly shorter and more rounded. Fly feathers are decorated with light rims. Thickening of the beak and the eye ring in the young - from pale blue to light green, and in adults - yellow. The tail is rounded because the tail feathers are short. Wings of adult individuals cover tail feathers, on dark yellow legs very dark claws. The mass of the kestrel ordinary is slightly more than 200 grams, the male barely falls short of 300. The average length of a male is 34,5 cm, and the females are 36 cm. The wingspan for such a small bird is impressive - 75-76 cm.
Where is the nest?
From winter habitats the small falcon arrives in mid-April - early May. The nest is twisted in pairs. Less often, several more pairs can be found nearby, or even a colony, but no more than 10 birds.
The Kestrel prefers to nest on not very open margins and even on power lines. Less often, her home can be found on small rocks or rivers, on steep banks. The structure of the nest is not engaged, like most falcons, but finds unoccupied nests abandoned by magpies, rooks or ravens. Sometimes the family of kestrels can be found in a hollow on a separate tree, and it doesn’t matter that the hollow was non-empty. The bird easily chases the hosts and settles itself. The selected nest is symbolically completed by several branches.
Egg-laying and incubation
Depending on the weather, the common kestrel starts laying eggs towards the end of April. The female incubates about five brightly speckled eggs in ocher shades. But ornithologists found nests with 8 and more eggs. The masonry kestrel is only once a year. In rare cases of the death of all eggs, the bird can still make one laying. Only the female incubates. The male works on sustenance.
Chicks appear a month later. Immediately hear well and see. Having appeared on the light, the little falcon's chicks are covered with the most delicate white down and the same white beak and claws. In the event of a possible danger, they fall on their back, exposing sharp claws upwards, or simply lie on the bottom of the nest. Parents are both actively engaged in the offspring. The appetite of the kids is “serious”. Food requires a lot and often. In one day, while raising the offspring, two parents kill more than twenty small rodents! At this beneficial time, they bring invaluable benefits to farmers and gardeners. And they say that the "empty" bird. Wrong, because its contribution to the preservation of the harvest is great! The young kestrel slowly changes the color of plumage to an adult. At this time, the chicks are already interested in the surrounding life and require even more food.
After 45-50 days, the cubs of the small falcon are ready for the first flight. At this time you can see "gymnastic exercises" on the edge of the nest. Soon the kestrel chicks will become on the wing and will go with their parents to the wintering grounds at the end of September - beginning of October.
The number and enemies
In recent years, the common kestrel has been subjected to large-scale banding. Due to this, ornithologists found out that a bird can be nomadic, markedly migratory or sedentary. This behavior of the kestrel is affected only by the food supply in its habitats. The main migration path falcon run to Southern Europe. Very often they were seen in Spain, Poland, Belgium, Germany and even in North Africa.
This bird has no enemies, well, unless it is a man. In the seventies of the last century, it was possible to surrender her paws for a good reward. The number of common Kestrel has fallen sharply. The reason for this - a great confidence of birds to humans. Since the beginning of 2000, the number of the Kestrel common has been kept at the same level.