This is Kissy, a Kestrel and is used on our flying display and educational talks. The Kestrel is a popular species in falconry.
Turbary Woods
Common Kestrel
Common Kestrel

Kissy - Kestrel

This is Kissy, a Kestrel and is used on our flying display and educational talks. The Kestrel is a popular species in falconry.

Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)  It is also known as the European Kestrel, Eurasian Kestrel, or Old World Kestrel. In Britain, it is generally just called the kestrel. The name kestrel is given to several different members of the falcon genus, Falco. Kestrels are most easily distinguished by their typical hunting behaviour which is to hover at a height of around 10–20 metres (33–66 ft) over open country and swoop down on prey, usually small mammals, lizards or large insects.

Kestrels require a slight headwind in order to hover, hence a local name of Windhover for Common Kestrel.

Kissy Common KestrelDescription

Common Kestrels measure 32-39 cmfrom head to tail, with a wingspan of 65-82 cm, females are noticeably larger than the males.  Like the other Falco species, they have long wings as well as a distinctive long tail.  Their plumage is mainly light chestnut brown with blackish spots on the upperside and buff with narrow blackish streaks on the underside; the remiges are also blackish.  The cere feet, and a narrow ring around the eye are bright yellow; the toenails, bill and iris are dark.

Habitat and Diet

It is a diurnal animal of the lowlands and prefers open habitat such as fields, heaths, shrubland and marshland. It does not require woodland to be present as longs as there are alternate perching and nesting sites like rocks or buildings.  It can often be found hunting along the sides of roads and motorways.  Common Kestrels eat almost exclusively mouse-sized mammals: typically voles, but also shrews and mice.

The Common Kestrel starts breeding in spring, nesting in holes in cliffs, trees or buildings; in built-up areas, Common Kestrels will often nest on buildings, and generally they often reuse the old nests of corvids if available.

In Culture

Perhaps the most well known representation of the Kestrel comes from the 1969 British Film by director Ken Loach, Kes, the film is based on the novel A Kestrel for a Knave written by the Barnsley born author Barry Hines in 1968.  The film focuses on Billy Casper, who has little hope in life beyond becoming a coal miner until he finds an outlet through training a kestrel that he takes from a nest on a farm.