Australian (Nankeen) Kestrel
Hovering over the wide open fields and grassy areas of the Parklands is where you might see an Australian (Nankeen) kestrel. The smallest falcon in Australia, it can hover skilfully into the wind using quick shallow wingbeats to keep it’s body held horizontal while searching the ground for prey.
The black band near the tip of the tail can be seen when the bird hovers. The upper parts are a rich rufous (nankeen) with black wingtips and the underparts are whitish with black streaking. Males have a grey crown and tail and the female (pictured) has a rufous crown and tail. A dark tear drop mark under the eyes is quite distinctive.
Kestrels are found throughout Australia and favour open woodlands, grasslands, heaths, farmlands, roadsides and coastal dunes. They perch on prominent dead trees, fences or telephone poles. Their flight is varied and indirect, often involving hovering and gliding. When they find prey they drop suddenly to the ground to feed. They mainly feed on small ground-dwelling vertebrates and insects. The bill is well suited to eating prey and has a sharp down curved point on the upper mandible for tearing.
Breeding can take place at almost any time but commonly from August to December. The nest is usually in a tree hollow or on a cliff ledge, but large disused stick nests or human structures such as building ledges are also used. The female lays a clutch of 3 to 4 eggs and does most of the incubation duties, with the male bringing food during this time. The eggs hatch after about a month and the chicks leave the nest after about another month. The Parklands provides an oasis for kestrels in the heart of the city.