[order] FALCONIFORMES | [family] Falconidae | [latin] Falco punctatus | [authority] Temminck, 1821 | [UK] Mauritius Kestrel | [FR] Crecerelle de Maurice | [DE] Mauritiusfalke | [ES] Cernicalo de la mauricio | [NL] Mauritiustorenvalk
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.
Small, chestnut-and-white falcon. Male noticeably smaller than female. Rich warm brown to chestnut upperparts, with black crescentic markings on wings and mantle. Gleaming white underparts with bold, black heart-shaped blotchings. In flight, wings relatively rounded and long, thin tail.
Listen to the sound of Mauritius Kestrel
Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto
recorded by Horne, Jennifer F. M.
Africa : Mauritius. Falco punctatus, restricted to Mauritius, has undergone a spectacular recovery from just four wild birds (including one breeding pair) in 1974. By the end of the 1994 breeding season there were an estimated 222-286 birds in the population, following a successful recovery programme launched in 1973. At the end of the 1999-2000 season, there were 145-200 breeding pairs and a total population of 500-800 individuals, divided into three subpopulations on mountain chains in the north, east and south-west of Mauritius.
Its primary habitat was native, evergreen, subtropical forests, but captive-bred birds have shown greater tolerance for degraded and open areas. It traditionally nests in volcanic rock-cavities, and probably tree-holes, within forest territories but now even breeds in a few suburban areas.
It is a territorial species that nests in the rock cavities of cliff faces; recently the kestrel has started to nest in nest boxes. Pairs are monogamous throughout the breeding season and typically produce a clutch of four to five eggs in November or December. Incubation takes between 28 and 33 days. The chicks fledge after about 38 days and the juveniles stay within their natal territory until the next breeding season.
It preys mainly on endemic arboreal Phelsuma day-geckos, as well as small birds, insects, and introduced mice and shrews
This species is listed as Vulnerable because it has a very small population, susceptible to a variety of threats. It has sustained population increases in recent years owing to intensive conservation efforts. However, with an estimated carrying capacity of only c.1,000 individuals on Mauritius, it is always likely to have a very small population and remain at risk.
Deforestation by early colonists initiated declines – less than 3% of original forest now remains. More recent declines appear related to organochloride pesticide-use in the 1950s and 1960s in agriculture and to control malaria-carrying mosquitoes. Black rats Rattus rattus, crab-eating macaques Macaca fascicularis, small Indian mongooses Herpestes auropunctatus and feral cats are all introduced predators of eggs, young or adults