Common Kestrel

Falco tinnunculus

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In central Europe, the common kestrel can be observed in the courtship season between March and April. The flight display involves the male birds flapping their wings backwards whilst rolling on their longitudinal axis several times and then dropping down with a swift glide. At the same time, one can hear excited calls, which serve to delineate territorial boundaries. The common kestrel is a cavity breeder, named so because it builds its nest in hollows and crevices. It will also avail itself of abandoned stalk nests. As synanthropes, kestrels will also build their nests in the middle of large cities, including in tall buildings and church towers. As a result, they are sometimes known as cathedral or church falcons. As a rule, the female bird will incubate her clutch of 3 to 6 eggs alone from the middle of April, while the male provides her with food. The chicks hatch from their brown speckled, ochre-coloured eggs after 27 to 29 days. The female bird is solely responsible for sheltering and feeding the newly hatched chicks while the male hunts and provides her with the food. After about 14 days both parents share the feeding. After around 4 weeks the moult from the initial white-grey down to the juvenile plumage is complete. The young stay in the nest for around 33 days, after this the parent birds continue to provide for them for another 30 days until they can provide for themselves. The juvenile plumage strongly resembles that of the adult female. It is only after their first full moult - starting in the first winter and finishing in the following summer - can one distinguish the gender of the birds according to their plumage. The moulting of adult bird feathers follows a specific sequence, which is not the case with juvenile birds.

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