Family Falcons, Caracaras (Falconidae)

Least Concern

Greater Kestrel (Falco rupicoloides)


French: Crécerelle aux yeux blancs German: Steppenfalke Spanish: Cernícalo ojiblanco
Other common names: White-eyed Kestrel

Falco Rupicoloides

A. Smith

, 1829,

South Africa


Molecular phylogeny#R indicates that this species may be sister to the F. tinnunculus group (see that species). Has been thought possibly to be closest to F. alopex, but quite different in ecology and proportions. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • F. r. fieldi (Elliot, 1897) – Eritrea#R, N & E Ethiopia and NW Somalia; isolated record in SC Niger#R.
  • F. r. arthuri (Gurney, Sr, 1884) – SW Ethiopia#R, Kenya and NE Tanzania.
  • F. r. rupicoloides A. Smith, 1829 – SE & E Angola, Namibia, Botswana, SW Zambia and Zimbabwe S through South Africa.
  • Descriptive notes

    29–37 cm; male 165–285 g, female 193–299 g, unsexed 181–334 g (S Africa), 178–252 g (E Africa); wingspan 68–84 cm. Only rufous kestrel... read more


    Like other kestrels, largely silent outside breeding season and away from nest. In alarm or threat... read more


    Open desert, steppe, subdesert scrub and short grassland (<50 cm) with scattered trees up to... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly arthropods, especially grasshoppers, termites, beetles and solifugids (less frequently ants, centipedes, scorpions, spiders,... read more


    Laying Jul–Feb (peak Sept–Oct) in S Africa; Jan–Nov (peak Apr–May) in E Africa; Apr–Jun in Somalia;... read more


    Resident and territorial in many parts of its range, but nomadic in more arid areas, where only... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Widespread and generally common in S Africa, with estimated 6000 pairs in Transvaal (South Africa), home range of 570... read more

    Recommended citation

    Kemp, A.C. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Greater Kestrel (Falco rupicoloides). 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 24 February 2020).