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Banded Kestrel

An Overview of the Banded Kestrel

The banded kestrel (Falco zoniventris) is a species of bird that is native to Africa and parts of the Middle East. It is a small, colourful species of falcon, typically measuring between 29 and 35 centimetres. It is distinctive due to its brown head, yellowish-brown upper plumage, and white tail-tip. It usually sport a black vertical stripe on its forehead, giving it its name – the banded kestrel. The banded kestrel can be found in a variety of habitats, from open grasslands to savannah, but is most commonly located close to human settlements, especially farmlands.

Unique Characteristics Of The Banded Kestrel

The banded kestrel has a unique set of skills and traits that allow it to thrive in its environment. One of the most striking characteristics of this species is its great speed. It is an agile and speedy bird, capable of reaching speeds of up to 70 km per hour while flying. It is also an excellent hunter, capable of swiftly catching small mammals, reptiles, birds, and even insects. It hunts by hovering or flapping its wings, scanning the ground for its prey. Its speed and agility also allow it to escape from predators.

When not engaged in hunting or escape, the banded kestrel is active during the day, using its swift wings to soar in search of food. Its diet consists primarily of insects and small mammals, with some reports of the kestrel consuming small birds as well. It is also known to take advantage of food sources such as birds that have been attracted to the area by farmers.

Habitat and Range Of Banded Kestrel

The banded kestrel is found throughout much of Africa, extending from the Sahel in the north, to Gabon and the Democratic Republic of Congo in the south. It can also be found in parts of the Arabian Peninsula and in certain parts of South Asia. The species can be found in a range of habitats, but it prefers open grasslands and savannah, as well as areas close to human settlements.

In addition to its range, the banded kestrel is thought to be fairly common within its range. Although population data are lacking, banded kestrels are thought to be widespread and abundant in certain areas. It is listed as a species of “Least Concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Banded Kestrel two

Reproduction and Breeding Habits

The banded kestrel is an monogamous species, typically pairing for life with a single partner. It breeds during the wet season when food is more plentiful, though this varies by region. The nest is typically made with just a few pieces of mud, grass and twigs, and is usually located on a tall tree, rock face, or other structure. The nest site must face east so the chicks can benefit from the early morning sun. The female will lay between three and four eggs, which will hatch after around 25 days.

The chicks are mostly precocial, meaning that they can walk and feed themselves soon after hatching. In rural areas, the banded kestrel is known to alert humans of approaching birds of prey, often engaging in noisy displays and calling out in alarm. It has even been observed distracting large birds of prey away from its nest and young, demonstrating great bravery in the face of danger.

The Banded Kestrel in Human Culture

The banded kestrel has been celebrated in human culture for centuries. It has often been featured as a motif in classical African art, depicted as a fierce and courageous defender of its family and territory. In many African cultures, the kestrel is also seen as a sacred bird and a bringer of luck. This same symbolism extends to other cultures and parts of the world, with the banded kestrel often seen as a spirit animal of the stoic and brave.

In some parts of the world, the banded kestrel is also kept in captivity as a hunting aid. This practice is most common in the United Kingdom, where a certain type of Kestrels known as ‘Kestrels’ are used to catch prey and protect crops. These birds are typically allowed to roam freely and are even thought to be somewhat domesticated.


The banded kestrel is a beautiful and unique species of bird that is native to Africa and parts of the Middle East. Its impressive speed and agility make it an effective hunter, allowing it to catch small mammals and insects with ease. It is thought to be quite common in its range, and is listed as a species of “least concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The banded kestrel is a beloved and respected species, often appearing in art and stories. It is also used by some people as a hunting aid, demonstrating its versatility and usefulness in different situations.

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