km1's picture

Bird of prey ?kestrel

Observed: 3rd April 2013 By: km1km1’s reputation in Birdskm1’s reputation in Birdskm1’s reputation in Birdskm1’s reputation in Birds
bird of prey 1
bird of prey 2
bird of prey 3

Bird of prey. I am not sure if it is possible to ID from photos but I am hoping someone out there is good with bird silhouettes. My best guess kestrel.

Species interactions

No interactions present.

Species with which Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) interacts


Aláine's picture

If you were wondering about

If you were wondering about Kestrel identification in future especially in flight, they and the barn owl are the only British raptors which hover. That narrows it down a good bit! Sparrowhawks keep to lower altitudes when hunting in general and use tailchasing. Kestrels also have pronounced tails in flight but sparrowhawks are similar.
Hope that is of some help.


ophrys's picture


...Buzzards often hang in the air and appear to be hovering, especially at the top of a ridge. In spite of the size difference, I have known that catch people out.


My Flickr photos...

browntrumpet's picture


Actually, i'd say Buzzards are pretty good at hovering considering their size.

km1's picture

Hovering birds

Thank you for the helpful comments. I do find birds of prey in flight hard so now I know hovering is barn owl, kestrel or buzzard.

Ray Turner's picture

Not True Hover (Buzzard)

I would say Barn owl and Kestrel. Buzzards don’t genuinely hover; they use the wind to hold station (effectively flying into the wind at the same speed as it’s coming on) and thus need a breeze. Kestrels and Barn Owls can hover in still air, you’ll see their wing beating furiously to maintain lift.



browntrumpet's picture


I didn't think Kestrels were truely hovering either. Also, i don't think there is ever "still air".

Ray Turner's picture

True Hover v Wind Hover

Interesting, the literature seems split. Some refer to kestrels only being able to wind hover, others talk of hovering in still air (e.g. the inside of barns).

I always understood that kestrels could execute a true hover (admittedly this is purely anecdotal) and one source seems to confirm this but with the caveat the energy budget is such that it can only maintain a true hover for a limited period, a few seconds at most. Any bird would wind hover into the wind when it could purely for efficiency.

I’m off out for the evening but I will have a longer look at the literature as soon as I get the chance, Maybe a long held belief is about to get busted.



DavidHowdon's picture


In Andrew Village's "The Kestrel" which is from 1990 he states that kestrels can only hover when there is wind.

browntrumpet's picture

Hovering debate

The largest bird that can "true-hover" is a Pied Kingfisher which is smaller than a Kestrel.
I've never read anything that says a Kestrel does anything over than "wind-hovering" including the species guide you mention.