Definition of kestrel in English:



  • A small falcon that hovers with rapidly beating wings while searching for prey on the ground.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘At nesting time the parents become bold and pugnacious attacking crows, magpies, cuckoos and kestrels crossing their territory.’
    • ‘With plenty of smaller birds and rabbits to prey on, all around the island kestrels hover, buzzards glide and peregrine falcons swoop.’
    • ‘Falcons and kestrels can be found almost everywhere and capture the imagination wherever they soar.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘They are important hunting grounds for the kestrel and barn owl.’
    • ‘Disturbance after eggs are laid provides opportunities for predation by carrion crows, jays, kestrels, magpies, foxes and mink.’
    • ‘Farmland birds that fared particularly well included kestrels, greenfinches and stock doves.’
    • ‘The array of birds included a hen harrier, barn owls, kingfishers, sparrowhawks, long-eared owls, kestrels and woodpeckers.’
    • ‘A kestrel hovers in one spot over a meadow, then moves on, only to hover again in a new location.’
    • ‘Most observations relate to larks, pipits and finches but kestrels are capable of taking such quarry as fieldfares, turtle doves and lapwing.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The couple collected breeds of birds from every continent, including pheasants, herons, ibis, kestrels and buzzards.’
    • ‘Birds of prey also suffered, with many sparrowhawks and kestrels too badly injured to survive, though many owls were successfully treated and released.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘After owls, U.K. government figures identify kestrels, common buzzards, and peregrine falcons as other raptors most likely to end up as roadkill.’
    • ‘The high casualty rate among smaller birds can be partly attributed to the depredations of their natural predators, the sparrow hawk and kestrel.’


Late Middle English castrel, perhaps from casserelle, dialect variant of Old French crecerelle, perhaps imitative of its call.