Kestrels at RSPB St Aidan’s

Kestrel at RSPB St Aidan's
Kestrel at RSPB St Aidan’s

I love visiting RSPB St Aidan’s. There’s lots to see, including kestrels.

Thursday 6th February 2020 was a calm day, and the kestrels were using perches rather than hovering. It’s fairly well-known that kestrels like to hover by facing into the wind, but I wondered if I could find out more.

Discover Wildlife says that they fly into, and at the same speed as, a headwind. This is called ‘wind-hovering’. A kestrel gains lift from its extended wings, and by fanning its tail feathers.

The kestrel is more suited to this behaviour than other falcons because its feathers are stiffer.

Paul D Frost adds that kestrels can dip their heads further down than other kestrels, and keep them very still even while beating their wings; and that hovering is energy-intensive, but kestrels are 10-15 times more successful hunting that way than from a perch.

From the colour of the head, I believe the bird in the main photo is a female. The female’s is brownish (Collins Bird Guide), while a male’s (see image below) is greyish.

Male kestrel at RSPB St Aidan's
Male kestrel at RSPB St Aidan’s

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