Fox Kestrel: 15 Facts You Won't Believe!

Fox kestrel facts tell us about their nesting habits.

The fox kestrel (Falco alopex) is a species of falcon that is native to Africa. Their preferred habitat is open arid savannah and semi-desert that expands from the country of Ethiopia in the east to Guinea in the west. The bird makes its nest in tree cavities on rocky cliffs. They are known to have a slender body structure along with a narrow tail. The plumage is chestnut brown to rufous-colored with black-colored streaks. The narrow tail is barred while the wings are dark, but no streaks or bars can be seen on them. Other kestrel birds are darker in color, while the fox kestrel is actually pale in comparison which makes them distinctive. They look beautiful when they are in flight with their wings and tail fanned out. The wingspan of these birds is 29.5-34.6 in (75-88 cm), and they are about 8.8-10.6 oz (250-300 g) in weight. They perch on a tree and spot their prey from there, or they catch it mid-flight.

For more relatable content, check out these swallow-tailed kite facts and brant facts for kids.

Fox Kestrel

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Insects, lizards, small birds, mammals, and vertebrates

What do they eat?


Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?

8.8-10.6 oz (250-300 g)

How long are they?

13.8-15.3 in (35-39 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Chestnut brown to rufous, yellow with black bars, and streaks

Skin Type


What are their main threats?


What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them

Open, arid savannah and semi-desert







Scientific Name

Falco alopex





Fox Kestrel Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a fox kestrel?

The fox kestrel (Falco alopex) is a species of falcon bird. It is a type of kestrel bird.

What class of animal does a fox kestrel belong to?

The fox kestrel belongs to the family Falconidae and class Aves of animals.

How many fox kestrels are there in the world?

The exact population of fox kestrels in numbers falls somewhere around 670-6700 individual mature fox kestrel birds in the world. Between 1969-1973 and 2000-2004, the population of these birds went up in protected areas and went down in non-protected areas in its habitat range. Currently, the population seems to be stable in its habitat range.

Where does a fox kestrel live?

Fox kestrel birds live in Africa within the latitude of 1-17 degrees North. These birds can be found from Eritrea and Ethiopia in the east to Guinea and Gambia in the west. Within this range, some birds are migratory, while some are not. The birds living near the boundaries within the range can be seen migrating to the north when the rainy season arrives, and they migrate to the south when the dry season arrives. The ones living in the central part of Africa are non-migratory fox kestrels. After the breeding season ends, the ones living on the outskirts are known to migrate to Kenya in the south.

What is a fox kestrel's habitat?

These birds are found around the Sub-Saharan region of Africa, mainly in the open, arid savannah and semi-desert habitats. Within these habitats, they inhabit outcroppings and rocky cliffs on the edge of their habitat. In the south of their geographical range, sometimes these birds can be seen around open grasslands and wetter habitats.

Who do fox kestrels live with?

Fox kestrels are mostly solitary birds and are known to hunt for prey alone. They only come together in a group of 20-25 birds during the breeding season.

How long does a fox kestrel live?

The exact lifespan of fox kestrels is not known. However, this species is pretty similar to American kestrels, and an American kestrel lives for around five years or less. We can assume that the fox kestrel's lifespan is around that range as well.

How do they reproduce?

The breeding season of the fox kestrel varies according to the geographical regions of their habitats. Around 20-25 birds come together to form a colony during this time. During the courtship behavior, the fox kestrel calls and soars above the nest site. Other than these calls and soaring, no other courtship ritual has been seen between the pairs. After they mate, the male and female both build the nest. The pairs have been seen to use the same nesting sites repeatedly. After building the nest, the female lays around two to three eggs. The incubation period and the fledging period are not known. However, the female incubates the eggs and takes care of the chicks after the eggs hatch, while the male provides the food and protects the territory.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the fox kestrel, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, is listed as Least Concern.

Fox Kestrel Fun Facts

What do fox kestrels look like?

A fox kestrel (Falco alopex) is a beautiful large-sized bird. They have a slender body and a long, narrow tail and wings. They are chestnut brown to rufous-colored along with black streaks all over them. A black band-like color can be seen on the tail feathers. The flight feathers of the fox kestrel wings are dark, while the flanks and the throat are the only places that are silver-white in color, and all these parts of the body have no streaks or are not barred. Other kestrel birds are darker in color, but the fox kestrel is rather pale in comparison. The bald and long legs, toes, cere, and the plumage around the eyes of the bird are yellow. The hook-shaped beak is black in color with a gray base. The males and females have similar plumage, but the plumage of the face of chicks is seen to be bluish-gray in color, with more black streaks.

Flight feathers of the fox kestrel are dark and not streaked.
* Please note that this is an image of a common kestrel, a bird in the same genus. If you have an image of a fox kestrel please let us know at

How cute are they?

These birds can be really beautiful with their rufous feathers on the body and flight feathers on the wings, streaked plumage, barred tail and yellow legs, toes, beak, and cere. They are a sight to behold when in flight with their wings and tail fanned out. These birds are also not aggressive which surely adds to their charm.

How do they communicate?

Fox kestrels communicate vocally and visually. It is not a very vocal bird, but high-pitched screeching sounds can be heard from the fox kestrel during the breeding season. These birds mainly rely on their keen visual abilities to communicate like most falcons or raptors.

How big is a fox kestrel?

Adults of the fox kestrel bird are about 13.8-15.3 in (35-39 cm) in terms of length, and the wingspan is about 29.5-34.6 in (75-88 cm). Fox kestrels are about twice the size of pygmy falcons which are about 8 in (20 cm) in length.

How fast can a fox kestrel fly?

It is not known at what speed the fox kestrel can fly, but kestrels, in general, can fly at a pretty high speed. A close relative to the fox kestrel, the American kestrel can fly at a speed of 64.6 mph (104 kph).

How much does a fox kestrel weigh?

Adult fox kestrels are about 8.8-10.6 oz (250-300 g) in weight.

What are the male and female names of the species?

The male birds of this species are called cocks, and female birds of this species are called hens.

What would you call a baby fox kestrel?

A baby fox kestrel is known as a chick.

What do they eat?

The fox kestrel is carnivorous in nature. This bird eats food like insects, birds, lizards, and small mammals and vertebrates, like squirrels, but not rabbits, as they are comparatively bigger in size. Like other kestrel birds, fox kestrels are also capable of hovering and they catch their prey when hovering in the air mid-flight. The other times they perch on a tree and they spot their prey from there.

Are they poisonous?

No, these birds are not known to be poisonous.

Would they make a good pet?

Falcons like the prairie falcons are of the same genus as kestrels, and they are kept for falconry by experts but not as pets. However, kestrel birds are sometimes known to be kept as pets.

Did you know...

Not much is known about the nesting habits of the fox kestrel (Falco alopex). The bird is known to build its nest in cavities of trees. Other than these cavities, a nest can also be found in rock faces. Many birds of the breeding colony can be seen nesting within a close range at times.

Are fox kestrels endangered?

Fox kestrels are not an endangered species and they have been deemed as a Least Concern species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The main and only threat to this species is habitat degradation. As this is not affecting the populations of these birds in a major way at the moment, no conservation efforts are being taken.

Do fox kestrels migrate?

The fox kestrel range map says that only the birds living on the outskirts and the borders of their geographical range are known to migrate. The ones living in the boundaries migrate to the north in the rainy seasons and to the south in the dry seasons. The ones living on the outskirts migrate south to Kenya once the breeding season ends.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our Hawaiian hawk facts and griffon vulture facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable types of bird coloring pages.

* Please note that the main image is of an American kestrel, a bird in the same genus. If you have an image of a fox kestrel please let us know at



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