Malagasy Kestrel (Falco newtoni)

Malagasy Kestrel

[order] FALCONIFORMES | [family] Falconidae | [latin] Falco newtoni | [authority] Gurney, 1863 | [UK] Malagasy Kestrel | [FR] Crecerelle malgache | [DE] Madagaskarfalke | [ES] Cernicalo de aldabra | [NL] Madagaskartorenvalk

Subspecies

Monotypic species

Genus

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

The head and the nape of the males is rufous grey with dark streaks. A dark moustachial streak running from the basis of the bill backwards to sides of the throat. The upperparts and the wingcoverts are chestnut with black spots. The uppertail coverts are grey with blackish spots. The long flight feathers are blackish brown, the inner webs are covered with white and chestnut spots. The underparts are whitish. The short flight feathers are chestnut coloured and dark banded. The chest, belly and underwing coverts are covered with black spots. The tail is grey coloured. It has six to seven narrow black bars and a broad subterminal bar. All feathers have white tips. In addition there is a rufous phase. At this morph the head and nape are almost black. Body and underwing coverts are dark chestnut brown with black streaks and spots. The throat exhibits a buffish-white hue. The underwing coverts are greyish white and spotted black. The head of the females is stronger chestnut coloured. The underparts are more spotted and the tail is brown with black bars. Both sexes exhibits a slate grey bill with a black tip. The cere is yellow. The legs are either yellow or bright orange (rufous morph). The juveniles are similar coloured as the females. Unmistakably a kestrel, its appearance is typical of the group. Its main differentiation from some other kestrels is in the male, where the grey colouring on the head is very dark, becoming, in its darkest phase, almost black. It is unlike any other raptor on the island of Madagascar.

Listen to the sound of Malagasy Kestrel

[audio:http://www.planetofbirds.com/MASTER/FALCONIFORMES/Falconidae/sounds/Malagasy Kestrel.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto


wingspan min.: 42 cm wingspan max.: 47 cm
size min.: 22 cm size max.: 27 cm
incubation min.: 0 days incubation max.: 0 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 5  

Range

Africa : Madagascar, Aldabra Island. Madagascar and Aldabra at altitudes up to 6,000 feet. It can also occasionally be seen in the Comoro Islands.

Habitat

It is relatively common on Madagascar and on Aldabra, and is quite a bold bird, often to be seen in towns and villages as well as in open country. Roosting often under the eaves of houses, it spends much of its day either on the wing, searching for prey with much characteristic hovering (although possibly less than some other kestrels). It also perches on anthills and in trees, although it avoids forest vegetation.

Reproduction

The Madagascar Kestrel usually nests on rock ledges, in buildings, in tree holes, or in the stick nests of other birds, such as the Pied Crow. Four to six eggs are laid, usually in September, and are incubated by the female only, who is fed by the male at regular intervals during incubation.

Feeding habits

It spends much of its day either on the wing, searching for prey with much characteristic hovering (although possibly less than some other kestrels). It also perches on anthills and in trees, although it avoids forest vegetation. The main food of the Madagascar Kestrel is insects. It also takes at times small birds, frogs and small mammals. With the exception of insects, all food is taken on the ground.

Video Malagasy Kestrel

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yemshvNE40c

copyright: Helmut Schenkel Brunner


Conservation

This species has a very 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 increasing, 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 is very 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 ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Malagasy Kestrel status Least Concern

Migration

Sedentary, but fagrants reported from the Comoro Islands suggesting some dispersal.

Distribution map

Malagasy Kestrel distribution range map

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