Family Falcons, Caracaras (Falconidae)

Least Concern

Dickinson's Kestrel (Falco dickinsoni)


French: Faucon de Dickinson German: Schwarzrückenfalke Spanish: Cernícalo dorsinegro

Falco dickinsoni

P. L. Sclater

, 1864,

Chibasa, Shire River, Malawi


Sometimes united in subgenus Dissodectes with other grey kestrels F. ardosiaceus and F. zoniventris; more similar in size and proportions to latter. Monotypic.


SC Africa from Angola E through S DRCongo to SC Tanzania (including Zanzibar and Pemba), and S to N Namibia, N Botswana, NE South Africa and SE Mozambique.

Descriptive notes

27–30 cm; male 169–207 g, female 207–235 g; wingspan 61–68 cm. Stocky falcon with rather flat crown, large eyes and rather large feet. Whitish-grey... read more


High-pitched "keee-keee-keee..." used in contact and alarm, softer and more mewing "... read more


Wooded savanna or clumps of palm trees (Hyphaene and Borassus, Arecaceae),... read more

Food and feeding

Mainly small birds, lizards and chameleons, together with insects, small snakes, rodents, frogs, solifugids and crabs (latter found in one... read more


Laying Jul–Dec (peak Sept–Oct), becoming later towards S of range, with a record of nestlings in Malawi in late May indicating... read more


Territorial pairs resident in many areas of C Africa. Some local movements reported, e.g. in... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Uncommon to scarce in much of range, and declining at least locally, but large areas of good habitat remain, some of it in... read more

Recommended citation

Kemp, A.C. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Dickinson's Kestrel (Falco dickinsoni). 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 13 December 2019).