Seychelles Kestrel

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Image:SeychellesKestrel.JPG

Common Name: Seychelles Kestrel
Scientific Name: Falco araea

Size: 7-9 inches (18-23 cm); Wingspan: 15.7-17.7 inches (40-45 cm)

Habitat: Africa; it is endemic to the Seychelles Islands, where it is the only breeding bird of prey.

It inhabits native, evergreen, upland forests, but is now found in secondary rainforest and coconut plantations on Mahé.

Status: Vulnerable. Global population: 800+/- individuals. Surveys in 2002, the Mahé population was considered stable. Considerable development and habitat alteration have taken place on Mahé since 2002, suggesting that the population may have decreased. The Praslin population declined from around 20 pairs in the 1980s to just a few pairs in the 1990s, and four pairs in late 2002 Thus, overall the population is judged to have experienced a small decline over the last ten years.

Reduced numbers in the 1960s and 1970s may have been due to pesticide use or to peaks in commercial cinnamon cultivation and logging, which reduced upland forest to its lowest extent at this time. Rats, cats and barn owls have reduced the lizard population on which the kestrels depend and they may take eggs and chicks. Barn owls and common mynas have occupied many suitable nest sites. Housing development could be a threat although the species breeds in urban areas Fires, and possibly housing developments and alien predators, have nearly halved its population on Praslin in 10 years.

Diet: Indigenous lizards (primarily geckos; Phelsuma spp.), insects, small birds and mice.

When hunting, it rarely hovers as most kestrels do, instead feeding by sitting on an exposed perch and waiting for prey to pass, then swooping down to catch it

Nesting: Females are noticeably larger than males. The adult male's upper parts are reddish brown with black spots while the under parts are unspotted and buff. The head and rump are dark blue-grey. The tail is blue-grey with black bars. The bill is dark and the feet and cere are yellow. Females are similar to the males in appearance but are a little paler. Immature birds have a brown, streaked head, spots on the breast and a buff tip to the tail.

Nesting is predominantly on cliffs above 200 m, and less successful at lower elevations on buildings, in holes in trees and in old Common Myna nests. Lowland nests have a high failure rate of about 70-80% which is believed to be due to predation. Small territories are occupied year-round, but only one brood is reared per year.

Two or three eggs are laid; they are white with brown markings and are incubated for 28–31 days. The young birds fledge after 35–42 days and then remain with their parents for another 14 weeks.

Cool Facts: It is the smallest of the kestrels. While persecution by humans is now rare, in the past, kestrels were killed because they were considered to be an omen of death.


This 3D model is found in Songbird Remix Birds of Prey Volume I: Kestrels, Hobbies and Falcons

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