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Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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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). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in 10 years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _the_WP15.xls#.
Cramp, S.; Perrins, C. M. 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.
SACC. 2006. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at: #

Population justification
The European population is estimated at 409,000-603,000 pairs, which equates to 819,000-1,210,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms approximately 19% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 4,310,000-6,370,000 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed. It is therefore placed in the band 4,000,000-6,500,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
In Europe the population size is estimated to be decreasing by less than 25% in 16.2 years (three generations) (BirdLife International 2015). In Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and northern Cameroon the species decreased by 75-94% in all areas surveyed (both within and outside protected areas) between 1969-1973 and 2000-2004 (Thiollay 2007).

Behaviour Populations in the northern part of the species's range tend to be migrant, with others resident (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Migrant birds leave their breeding grounds between August and October, and those arriving in sub-Saharan Africa do so from October onwards (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). The return journey begins from February through until April (the exact time probably dependent on food availability), and is often undertaken in small mixed groups with F. naumanni and occasionally F. vespertinus (Brown et al. 1982, Snow and Perrins 1998, Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). The species can be solitary or gregarious, being most often seen singly but sometimes travelling in flocks of up to 10 individuals, especially on migration. Larger groups may congregate at sources of abundant food. It is mainly diurnal (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). Habitat The species tolerates a wide range of open and partially forested habitats, and has been recorded up to 4,500 m (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Diet It feeds mainly on small mammals, particularly in northern Europe, with insects possibly more important in Africa and the Mediterranean (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Breeding site The locations of nests are variable, with rock ledges, buildings and abandoned corvid nests being commonly reported sites (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Management information Birds require suitable perches and roosting sites, usually provided by trees, telegraph poles, buildings or rock faces (del Hoyo et al. 1994).


Past population declines resulted from the heavy use of organochlorine and other pesticides in the 1950s-1960s (Orta and Boesman 2013). In Malta, the species was exterminated by shooting, though it has since returned (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). The population in much of the rest of Europe has shown a more recent steady decline, thought to be due to agricultural intensification (Snow and Perrins 1998). In its West African range, the species is vulnerable to habitat degradation through wood harvesting, overgrazing and fire as well as exposure to pesticides (Thiollay 2007). The species is vulnerable to the effects of potential wind energy development (Strix 2012).

Related state of the world's birds case studies

BirdLife International. 2015. European Red List of Birds. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg.

Brown, L.H., Urban, E.K. and Newman, K. 1982. The Birds of Africa, Volume I. Academic Press, London.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 1994. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 2: New World Vultures to Guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Ferguson-Lees, J. and Christie, D.A. 2001. Raptors of the world. Christopher Helm, London.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

Orta, J. and Boesman, P. 2013. Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. and de Juana, E. (eds), Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive, Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

Snow, D.W. and Perrins, C.M. 1998. The Birds of the Western Palearctic, Volume 1: Non-Passerines. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

STRIX. 2012. Developing and testing the methodology for assessing and mapping the sensitivity of migratory birds to wind energy development. BirdLife International, Cambridge.

Thiollay, J.-M. 2007. Raptor population decline in West Africa. Ostrich 78(2): 405-413.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species account from Birds in Europe: population estimates trends and conservation status (BirdLife International 2004)

Detailed species account from Birds in Europe: population estimates, trends and conservation status (BirdLife International 2004)

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

View photos and videos and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Khwaja, N. & Ashpole, J

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Falco tinnunculus. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Falconidae (Falcons, Caracaras)
Species name author Linnaeus, 1758
Population size 4000000-6500000 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 37,600,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- Projected distributions under climate change
- 2015 European Red List assessment