Dickinsons Kestrel (Falco dickinsoni)

Dickinsons Kestrel

[order] FALCONIFORMES | [family] Falconidae | [latin] Falco dickinsoni | [authority] Sclater, 1864 | [UK] Dickinsons Kestrel | [FR] Faucon de Dickinson | [DE] Schwarzrucken-Falke | [ES] Cernicalo Dorsinegro | [NL] Dickensons Torenvalk


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Falco dickinsoni AF sc, se


Members of the genus falco are mostly medium-sized falcons, but vary from the large peregrine falcon to the small American kestrel. The wings are long and pointed and used almost continuously during flight. The bill is short, powerful, and with a distinct ‘tooth’ on each side. Most falcons of this group have a black teardrop-shaped ‘mustache’ mark on each side of the head. Falcons are fastflying birds of open country and are famous for attaining high speeds as they dive from high altitudes to knock birds out of the air.

Physical charateristics

Around the head and nape the adult is pale grey tinged with brown and finely streaked with black. This merges into dark grey, almost black, on the upper-wing coverts and back. The upper tail coverts are pale grey. The tail itself is pale grey, darker towards the tip, and with a broad black sub-terminal bar and several finer black bars. The flight feathers from above are black, barred with grey or white on the primaries and outer secondaries. The chin and throat are pale grey with fine black streaks. The breast, belly and under-wing coverts are brownish grey, with feint darker streaks, becoming mid grey on the thighs and pale grey on the under-tail coverts. The underside of the tail is pale grey with black bars. Flight feathers are dark grey below, barred with white on the primaries and outer secondaries. The eyes are brown, the bill slate-grey, the legs and cere yellow.

wingspan min.: 65 cm wingspan max.: 70 cm
size min.: 28 cm size max.: 30 cm
incubation min.: 27 days incubation max.: 33 days
fledging min.: 33 days fledging max.: 35 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 4  
      eggs max.: 0  


Africa : Southcentral, Southeast. The Dickinson’s Kestrel is found in Tanzania south to Mozambique, and west to Angola,


Dickinson’s Kestrel is a bird of low-lying savannahs, favouring swampy areas where Borassus palms occur. It prefers open country close to water, rather than wooded areas. It spends much of its time perched in trees with a clear view of open country. In flight it sometimes hovers, but most of its hunting is done from perches.


It nests in the crowns, or on the hollow top of coconut or Borassus palms. Two or three typical Kestrel eggs are laid – cream, heavily marked and spotted with red-brown. Laying dates are generally between September and December. Other details of the breeding habits are not available, but the young remain with the parents for some time after fledging and possibly roost with them.

Feeding habits

The adult Dickinson’s Kestrels feed mostly on terrestrial insects, like grasshoppers. It is attracted by grass fires where insects can be found. It occasionally also takes lizards, frogs, crabs and small birds.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Dickinsons Kestrel status Least Concern



Distribution map

Dickinsons Kestrel distribution range map

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