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Kestrels can be readily identified by their ability to hover motionless in the wind while hunting (Photo: Shay Connolly).

Kestrel Falco tinnunculus

Irish name Pocaire gaoithe.

Length 33–39cm.

Wingspan 65–80cm.
Estimated Irish breeding population Not accurately known - best guess, around 10,000 pairs.

Map of Kestrel distribution in Ireland. Widespread, though declining in the north and east.

Habitat Occurs in a variety of open habitats including fields, forest edges, mountainsides, moorland and forestry plantations. Nests in old crows nest or cavities in trees, in cavities or ledges in old ruins, and on cliff ledges on mountains or old quarries.

Diet Mainly small mammals such as shrews, voles and mice, occasionally taking small birds and insects, such as beetles.

Nesting season Middle of April to middle of May.

Eggs Usually four or five eggs are laid. They are matt white, cream or buff with small spots, flecks and blotches of of brown.

Incubation period 28 days, mainly by the female.

Fledging time About 35 days.

Number of broods reared each year One.

A young Kestrel looks out from its nest in a cavity in an old tree trunk (Photo: Eric Dempsey).

Have a look at the details of the other species in the survey