Nankeen Kestrel

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Habitat: Grassland, Woodland


Preferred habitats are lightly wooded areas and open agricultural regions and tend to be absent from dense forests. The Nankeen Kestrel’s success as a bird of prey can be largely contributed to its tolerance for a wide variety of habitats and its ability to feed on a variety of foods and nest in a range of sites.


Kestrels are often attracted to plagues of mice, capturing their prey on the ground by dropping onto them.


The Nankeen Kestrel’s diet is varied. It mainly feeds on small mammals, reptiles, small birds and a variety of insects. Prey is located from a perch or by hovering a short distance above the ground on rapid wing-beats, using its fan-shaped tail as a rudder and keeping the head and body kept still. Once prey is spotted, the bird drops nearer to the ground until it is close enough to pounce. Some insects and birds may be caught in mid-air or snatched from tree branches.


The Nankeen Kestrel nests in a wide variety of sites, including tree hollows, caves, ledges on the outside of buildings, and occasionally on the ground. The nest consists of anything from a simple scrape in the dirt of a ledge or tree hollow, to a nest of sticks or mud that has been abandoned by another species of bird. Pairs of Nankeen Kestrels usually stay together over successive breeding seasons, and will often use the same nest site or territory year after year. Usually, only one brood of young is raised in a year. The female does the bulk of the incubation, while the male supplies the food.