Family Falcons, Caracaras (Falconidae)

Least Concern

Spotted Kestrel (Falco moluccensis)


French: Crécerelle des Moluques German: Molukkenfalke Spanish: Cernícalo moluqueño
Other common names: Moluccan Kestrel

Tinnunculus moluccensis


, 1850,



Thought to be closest to F. cenchroides, and both traditionally considered members of the F. tinnunculus group (which see). Additional described forms include javensis (Java, Bali), renschi (Sumba) and timorensis (Timor), all synonymized with microbalius, and bernsteini (N Moluccas), regarded as inseparable from nominate. Two subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • F. m. microbalius (Oberholser, 1917) – Talaud Is, Sangihe, Siau, and Sulawesi and surrounding smaller islands; Java, Bali and Lesser Sundas E to Tanimbar Is. A pair has been recorded breeding in S Mindanao (Philippines) in 2016.
  • F. m. moluccensis (Bonaparte, 1850) – Moluccas from Morotai and Halmahera S to Buru, Seram and Seram Laut.
  • Descriptive notes

    26–32 cm; 162 g (one adult male); wingspan 59–71 cm. Similar to F. tinnunculus in size, plumage and habits, but darker, with less pronounced... read more


    Especially vocal during breeding season. Calls much like other kestrels, e.g. F. ... read more


    Found in a variety of open and mostly open habitat types, including cultivated and urban areas,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Large insects, lizards, small mammals and small birds. Hunting behaviour probably similar to that of F. tinnunculus:... read more


    Not well known. Breeds Apr–Aug in Java; Mar–Sept on Flores; Mar–Aug in Sulawesi; Dec and Jan (suspected) on Sumba. Two... read more


    Apparently sedentary. Vagrant to S Borneo. Presence on isolated island of Masalembu Besar suggests... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Widespread and common to uncommon, with a global population estimated to be “tens of thousands”. Most... read more

    Recommended citation

    Clark, W.S., Kirwan, G.M. & Marks, J.S. (2020). Spotted Kestrel (Falco moluccensis). 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 18 February 2020).