One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A small falcon that hovers with rapidly beating wings while searching for prey on the ground.
Genus Falco, family Falconidae: several species, in particular the common kestrel (F. tinnunculus) of Eurasia and Africa, and the American kestrel (F. sparverius)
- ‘The result is the area has become a wildlife sanctuary with otters returning, and residents including white egrets, herons, kestrels and dozens of wild flowers.’
- ‘As they follow the coast, kestrels often hover above marshes and grasslands, waiting to pounce on rodents, small birds, and insects.’
- ‘Otters, badgers, kestrels, lapwing, buzzards and kingfishers are just a few of the animals and birds under threat along the Clanrye River between the Belfast and Tandragee Roads north of Newry.’
- ‘The most common bird of prey is the kestrel, which feeds chiefly on rodents such as mice and voles but will occasionally take small birds, beetles, small frogs, etc.’
- ‘With plenty of smaller birds and rabbits to prey on, all around the island kestrels hover, buzzards glide and peregrine falcons swoop.’
- ‘After owls, U.K. government figures identify kestrels, common buzzards, and peregrine falcons as other raptors most likely to end up as roadkill.’
- ‘The array of birds included a hen harrier, barn owls, kingfishers, sparrowhawks, long-eared owls, kestrels and woodpeckers.’
- ‘Most observations relate to larks, pipits and finches but kestrels are capable of taking such quarry as fieldfares, turtle doves and lapwing.’
- ‘The high casualty rate among smaller birds can be partly attributed to the depredations of their natural predators, the sparrow hawk and kestrel.’
- ‘Farmland birds that fared particularly well included kestrels, greenfinches and stock doves.’
- ‘Children were thrilled to be able to stroke a beautiful barn owl, while an enormous eagle owl, a tawny owl, a kestrel and a turkey vulture called George looked on.’
- ‘Falcons and kestrels can be found almost everywhere and capture the imagination wherever they soar.’
- ‘They are important hunting grounds for the kestrel and barn owl.’
- ‘A kestrel hovers in one spot over a meadow, then moves on, only to hover again in a new location.’
- ‘The couple collected breeds of birds from every continent, including pheasants, herons, ibis, kestrels and buzzards.’
- ‘At nesting time the parents become bold and pugnacious attacking crows, magpies, cuckoos and kestrels crossing their territory.’
- ‘Disturbance after eggs are laid provides opportunities for predation by carrion crows, jays, kestrels, magpies, foxes and mink.’
- ‘Biologists live-captured dozens of owls, kestrels, hawks and peregrine falcons, which might have fed on poisoned rats, and temporarily held them in captivity.’
- ‘Look for the soaring rough-legged hawk and the hovering kestrel as each hunts for ground squirrels and other rodents.’
- ‘Birds of prey also suffered, with many sparrowhawks and kestrels too badly injured to survive, though many owls were successfully treated and released.’
Late Middle English castrel, perhaps from casserelle, dialect variant of Old French crecerelle, perhaps imitative of its call.
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