Family Falcons, Caracaras (Falconidae)

Least Concern

Nankeen Kestrel (Falco cenchroides)


French: Crécerelle d’Australie German: Graubartfalke Spanish: Cernícalo australiano
Other common names: Australian Kestrel

Falco Cenchroides


, 1827,

New South Wales, Australia


Thought to be closest to F. moluccensis, and both traditionally considered members of the F. tinnunculus group (which see). Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • F. c. cenchroides Vigors, 1827 – Christmas I (Indian Ocean), and Australia, Tasmania, Lord Howe I and Norfolk I; winters irregularly from Lesser Sundas and Moluccas to Aru Is and regularly in S New Guinea; occasional vagrant to New Zealand.
  • F. c. baru Rand, 1940 – montane WC New Guinea.
  • Descriptive notes

    28–35 cm; male 121–195 g, female 115–273 g; wingspan 66–78 cm. A typical small, slim kestrel, with long, relatively narrow and rounded wings and a... read more


    Especially noisy during breeding season, when commonest call is shrill "keek-keek-keek...... read more


    All lightly wooded and treeless terrestrial habitats, including open woodland, savanna, grassland,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mostly invertebrates, particularly large insects such as grasshoppers, beetles, moths, ants and crickets, and other arthropods (centipedes... read more


    Jun–Dec (especially Sept–Oct) in Australia, Jul in New Guinea. Solitary; semi-colonial in concentrated breeding habitat amid... read more


    Resident and partly migratory populations; many pairs sedentary in temperate regions. Longest... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Widespread and abundant throughout Australia, where population placed at 75,000–750,000 pairs and has increased in... read more

    Recommended citation

    Debus, S. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Nankeen Kestrel (Falco cenchroides). 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 20 January 2020).