Status: Widespread resident throughout Ireland.
Conservation Concern: Amber-listed due to concerns over the European population, which has undergoing a moderate continuing decline.
Identification: A species of falcon. A small bird of prey with long, relatively narrow wings and tail. Has a short, hooked bill for eating meat. Usually, hovers, with a fanned tail, when hunting for its prey, when it manages to keep its head stationary despite its rapid wing beats. Male and female birds have different plumages but both sexes are recognised by their brown back and inner upperwings which contrast with their dark upper outer wings. Confusion with Sparrow hawk is possible but Kestrel has narrower, straighter wings and flies using less gliding in its flight. Males have one, terminal band on the upper tail and show a blue-grey upper tail and rump; females have a series of bands on a brown upper tail. Males have a blue-grey finely streaked head and females a brown streaked head. Both sexes have finely barred underwings with dense spotting on the body. Immature birds are similar to adults, but first summer males and juveniles can be separated from adults, please refer to a field guide.
Similar Species: Sparrowhawk, Peregrine, Merlin
Call: Repeated quickly, a series of short sharp notes.
Diet: Mainly small mammals, but will also take insects and invertebrates and sometimes birds. Can see small mammal 'runs', which it scans for signs of movement.
Breeding: A widespread breeder throughout the country. Nests in trees, buildings or in cracks in cliffs. Will use old crows nests. Found in wide variety of open habitats including coasts, moor land, farmland, wetlands, roadside verges and town parks.
Wintering: Largely resident within breeding territory. Some birds move within the country, especially down from the uplands.
Where to See: Easy to see at all times of the year throughout the country. Look out for them as you drive along new roads with wide, uncut verges. They will be hunting for rodents in the long grass.
Monitored by: Countryside Bird Survey and BirdTrack.