Family Falcons, Caracaras (Falconidae)

Least Concern

Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)


French: Faucon crécerelle German: Turmfalke Spanish: Cernícalo vulgar
Other common names: Eurasian Kestrel

Falco Tinnunculus


, 1758,



May form a species-group with F. newtoni, F. punctatus and F. araeus, probably including also F. moluccensis and F. cenchroides, and possibly also F. sparverius. S race rupicolus sometimes considered a separate species (with rufescens as a race) on grounds mainly of genetic distinctiveness and reduced sexual dimorphism#R#R; further study desirable. Races neglectus and alexandri raised to species level under the phylogenetic species concept by some authors#R, but levels of differentiation not particularly strong (alexandri forms step towards more extremely adapted neglectus). Several races poorly differentiated, e.g. perpallidus often subsumed within nominate. Proposed race japonicus (from Japan) invalid. Twelve subspecies normally recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • F. t. tinnunculus Linnaeus, 1758 – Common Kestrel – NW Africa, Europe and Middle East E to EC Siberia, Afghanistan, and W & N Pakistan E in Himalayas to Nepal and Bhutan; in winter also E Africa and S & SE Asia.
  • F. t. perpallidus (A. H. Clark, 1907) – E Siberia (E from Lena Basin) to Korea and NE China; in winter E China and SE Asia.
  • F. t. interstinctus McClelland, 1840 – Tibet E through N Indochina and C & S China to Japan; winters S to India, Malay Peninsula and Philippines and N Borneo.
  • F. t. objurgatus (E. C. S. Baker, 1927) – S India (Western Ghats, S Eastern Ghats) and Sri Lanka.
  • F. t. canariensis (Koenig, 1890) – Madeira and W Canary Is.
  • F. t. dacotiae E. J. O. Hartert, 1913 – E Canary Is.
  • F. t. neglectus Schlegel, 1873 – N Cape Verde Is.
  • F. t. alexandri Bourne, 1955 – SE Cape Verde Is.
  • F. t. rupicolaeformis (C. L. Brehm, 1855) – NE Africa and Arabia.
  • F. t. archeri E. J. O. Hartert & Neumann, 1932 – Somalia, coastal Kenya and Socotra.
  • F. t. rufescens Swainson, 1837 – W & C Africa E to Ethiopia and Eritrea, and S to N Angola and S Tanzania.
  • F. t. rupicolus Daudin, 1800 – Rock Kestrel – NC Angola, S DRCongo and S Tanzania S to S South Africa.
  • Descriptive notes

    27–35 cm; male 136–252 g, female 154–314 g (nominate race); wingspan 57–79 cm. Head and tail grey, with subterminal black band on tail;... read more


    Rather silent when not breeding. Commonest call is a fast, shrill, yelping “kik-kik-kik-kik...” or... read more


    Adaptable to great variety of open or moderately wooded terrains, normally with herbaceous... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly small mammals; in Europe up to 90% voles, with some mice and shrews; open-area passerines normally less important, although... read more


    Laying dates highly variable, with delay of c. 6 days for every 10° of latitude in W Palearctic. In Europe and Asia N of Himalayas... read more


    Nominate race migratory in N & E of breeding range; sedentary or dispersive in rest of range,... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Commonest diurnal raptor throughout much of range, at least in W Europe and NW Africa. Some decline following generalized... read more

    Recommended citation

    Orta, J., Boesman, P. & Marks, J.S. (2020). Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 22 February 2020).