Seychelles Kestrel (Falco araeus)

Seychelles Kestrel

[order] FALCONIFORMES | [family] Falconidae | [latin] Falco araeus | [authority] Oberholser, 1917 | [UK] Seychelles Kestrel | [FR] Crecerelle des Seychelles | [DE] Seychellenfalke | [ES] Cernicalo de la Seychelles | [NL] Seychellentorenvalk


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Falco araeus AF Seychelles Islands


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

It is the smallest of the kestrels, 18?23 cm long with a wingspan of 40?45 cm. The wings are fairly short and rounded. The adult male’s upperparts are reddish brown with black spots while the underparts 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 larger and paler. Immature birds have a brown, streaked head, spots on the breast and a buff tip to the tail.

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 15 cm size max.: 23 cm
incubation min.: 28 days incubation max.: 31 days
fledging min.: 35 days fledging max.: 42 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 3  


Africa : Seychelles Islands. Falco araea is found on the granitic islands of the Seychelles, with a stable population of 370 pairs on Mahe and a further 10-15 pairs on its satellite islands. Praslin, Silhouette and Ile du Nord were believed to hold at least another 20 pairs between them.


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


Nests mainly in rock cavities, but also at the base of palm fronds, on buildings, or in tree holes in developed areas. CLutch size is two to three egss which are incubated for about a month. The young take another five to six to leave the nest. After fledging the depend on their parents for an additional 9-24 weeks.

Feeding habits

Feeds mainly on lizards, but also on small rodents, small birds, and insects. Prey is always taken from a perch and is caught from branches, foliage, on the ground, or on the wing. This species does not hover like some other kestrel species

Video Seychelles Kestrel


copyright: Peter Nash


This species is listed as Vulnerable because it has a very small population and there have been recent declines in one subpopulation. It was far more widespread in the nineteenth century, with birds frequently seen on most islands. This range contraction may have been resulted from widespread persecution in the past.
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). Introduced nest predators, nest-site competitors and food competitors may be an ongoing threat. Housing development could be a threat, although the species breeds in urban areas6. Fires, and possibly housing developments and alien predators, have nearly halved its population on Praslin in 10 years.
Seychelles Kestrel status Vulnerable


Distribution map

Seychelles Kestrel distribution range map

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