Family Falcons, Caracaras (Falconidae)

Least Concern

Madagascar Kestrel (Falco newtoni)


French: Crécerelle malgache German: Madagaskarfalke Spanish: Cernícalo de Aldabra
Other common names: Malagasy Spotted Kestrel

Tinnunculus newtoni

Gurney, Sr

, 1863,



Member of the F. tinnunculus group (which see); perhaps closest to F. araeus#R. Race aldabranus sometimes included within newtoni, but distinctive enough (smaller and paler, with less heavy markings below) and worthy of recognition. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • F. n. aldabranus Grote, 1928 – Aldabra I (N of Madagascar).
  • F. n. newtoni (Gurney, Sr, 1863) – Madagascar.
  • Perhaps rare vagrant in Comoro Is.

    Descriptive notes

    25 cm; male 85–130 g, female 122–159 g; wingspan 49–63 cm. No other Falco in Madagascar has rufous upperparts. Relatively small falcon, with short... read more


    Considered very vocal, especially during breeding season, calling from treetops, atop buildings and... read more


    Open country to 2450 m, but mainly below 1800 m, in areas of natural grassland, marshes, also... read more

    Food and feeding

    Predominantly insects (Orthoptera, cockroaches, beetles, grasshoppers, mantises, locusts and Lepidoptera), which are suggested to comprise... read more


    Season mainly Sept–Nov, though copulation noted Jul. Fledglings noted late Nov and early Jan. Monogamous and territorial. Nests in... read more


    No regular movements reported, but appearance of vagrants on the Comoro Is suggests some dispersal... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II; possible race aldabranus included on CITES I. Common and widespread on Madagascar, where cultivation, urbanization... read more

    Recommended citation

    Kemp, A.C. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Madagascar Kestrel (Falco newtoni). 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 29 February 2020).