The Australian kestrel or nankeen kestrel (Falco cenchroides) is one of the smallest falcons, and unlike many, does not rely on speed to catch its prey. Instead, it simply perches in an exposed position, but it also has a distinctive technique of hovering over crop and grasslands. This bird is thought to be a very close relative of the common kestrel, and probably also the spotted kestrel. It seems to have evolved of ancestral common kestrels dispersing to the Australian region in the Middle Pleistocene—less than 1 million years ago—and adapting to local conditions.

A very common and easily seen raptor, the nankeen kestrel is found in Australia, New Guinea, and nearby islands, and is an irregular visitor to New Zealand. It occupies any type of land that is not too densely vegetated, but in particular temperate grasslands and open woodlands. In the tropical north and the sandy deserts of the west, it has a patchy and seasonal distribution.

Like many Australian birds, it has no clear migratory pattern: in the grasslands of the south, established pairs are resident year round, but many other birds migrate north during the austral winter, or roam the arid interior following food supplies.

A small, slim falcon (about 31 to 35 centimetres or 12 to 14 inches long), the nankeen kestrel is rufous or brown above and white or off-white below, with a black tail tip. Plumage varies considerably in detail, and some birds can look very scruffy, but the slim build, small size and distinctive straight-winged hovering habit make identification easy. It can be seen in Western Australia on coastal cliffs and windy conditions. Also seen on phone lines and power lines. (The only other Australasian raptors to hover are the elanid kites which are much lighter in colour and a little larger, and the brown falcon, which is much larger and more heavily built, and hovers only with difficulty). Altogether, it looks just like a pale, less patterned, and smaller derivate of the common kestrel, which it indeed is (see Gloger's Rule, Bergmann's Rule).

Diet is varied, with a large number of insects, but also small birds and reptiles, and in particular, small rodents, mostly mice. Nankeen kestrels are adaptable and hunt in a number of different ways: of these, simply perching in an exposed position (such as on a dead tree or a telephone pole) and watching for prey is the most common, but it is their habit of hovering motionless over crop and grasslands that is most distinctive.

Typically seen singly or in pairs, they can aggregate into loose flocks of up to 30 when conditions are right. Pairs are typically monogamous and may or may not disperse to different areas during the non-breeding season. The nest is any convenient structure: a tree hollow, cliff ledge or disused corvid's nest, for example, and is not modified or added to by the kestrels.

Three to seven eggs are laid in late winter (usually about four) and incubated by the female alone. Hatching takes place after 26 to 28 days, and the male brings food while the female continues to incubate until the young are close to fledging, at which time the female leaves the nest to hunt for them too. Multiple broods are raised in good seasons.

Australian Kestrel
Date Location Count
2020-07-02 13:54Carnarvon Golf Course1
2020-07-01 10:10Rocky Pool, Gascoyne River1
2020-07-04 08:52Karijini National Park1
2020-07-06 16:23De Grey River (Great Northern Hwy)2
2020-07-03 11:04Yanchep National Park1
2020-06-29 09:31Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park--Cape Naturaliste1
2020-07-06 15:58Ocean Reef Boat Harbour1
2020-06-29 16:00Cape Keraudren1
2020-06-19 10:45Herdsman Lake1
2020-06-19Woodman Point Regional Park1
2020-06-21 12:50New Norcia1
2020-06-12 08:48Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary1
2020-06-13 09:42Whiteman Park--Swamp at -31.84673, 115.959622
2020-07-02 10:12Lake McLarty Nature Reserve1
2020-06-28Tagaranna Bore Woodland2
2020-06-30Roebuck Plains Station (BBO and Jabiru Paddocks)
2020-07-03 20:17Great Northern Highway (Roebuck Plains)1
2020-06-28 12:49Roebuck Plains Station--East of highway1
2020-06-23 15:15Lake Eda (restricted access)1
2020-06-09 06:18Edgar Range Gorge Campsite1
2020-06-07 13:17Torndirrup National Park--Cave Point Lighthouse1
2020-06-08 10:00Waychinicup National Park--Bald Island Rd1
2020-06-30 14:00Hopetoun1
2020-07-04 11:58Mt Elizabeth Station--Warla (Hann River at -16.34055, 126.24347)1
2020-07-05 07:00Wolfe Creek Meteorite Crater National Park1
2020-06-13 16:15Berrimah Power Station area1
2020-06-12 07:07Kunoth Bore1
2020-07-03 07:33Alice Springs Sewage Ponds1
2020-06-08 07:20William Hutchinson Memorial, Coober Pedy2
2020-06-18 10:55Karumba Point1
2020-07-04 11:00Karumba
2020-07-05 08:00Normanton-Floraville Rd, Bynoe River crossing1
2020-07-05 15:00Normanton2
2020-07-06 08:00Bedourie4
2020-07-06 07:56Little Red Sand dune Swamp--to east1
2020-06-14 08:30Waddy Acacia, Eyre Developmental Rd, Qld1
2020-07-06 11:30Cuttaburra Crossing, Eyre Developmental Rd1
2020-06-29 12:32Australian Arid Lands Botanic Gardens1
2020-06-07 14:50Sheoak Flat1
2020-06-23 15:49Combo Waterhole Conservation Park1
2020-06-21 12:30Port Gawler Conservation Park1
2020-06-08 07:01Largs Bay3
2020-06-21 13:00Whites Road Wetland (Bolivar)2
2020-06-28 14:16Port Willunga1
2020-07-05 11:10Aldinga Washpool1
2020-06-29 09:06Lark Quarry T/O, Winton Jundah Rd1
2020-07-05 13:39Newland Head Conservation Park1
2020-06-12 11:00Gorge Wildlife Park1
2020-06-30 15:21Rest Area on Gulf Development Rd at -18.31185, 143.777081
2020-06-27 08:50Tanunda Wastewater Treatment Plant2
2020-06-28 10:00Springs Rd Wetland, Mount Barker1
2020-06-17 07:30Karma Waters Station2
2020-07-04 11:46Tolderol Game Reserve2
2020-07-05 06:30Sturt National Park--Fort Grey Campground1
2020-07-04 16:15Windorah1
2020-07-01 08:51Lynd Junction1
2020-07-03 14:30Sturt National Park1
2020-06-29 09:12Lochern National Park3
2020-06-19 10:32Mossman RIver Rest Area, Mossman, Queensland3
2020-06-14 13:41Pickford Rd between Mulligan Hwy and Mareeba Wetlands gate3
2020-06-08 06:45Thala Beach Nature Reserve1
2020-06-14 07:15Tinaroo Creek Road/SH1, Mareeba.1
2020-07-01 07:41Welford National Park2
2020-07-06 15:07Cattana Wetlands2
2020-06-15 15:00Boar Pocket Rd at -17.193, 145.666
2020-07-04 10:19Murray-Sunset National Park--Taparoo Track at -34.38333, 141.050001
2020-07-04 15:47Lindsay Island1
2020-06-11 09:00Pentland Gregory Springs Rd at Spring Creek1
2020-07-04 12:08Murray-Sunset National Park--Lake Walla Walla1
2020-06-09 15:00Pentland1
2020-07-01 12:30Mutawintji National Park--Rockholes Loop Walk1
2020-07-01 16:49Isisford town1
2020-07-04 14:00Lloyd Jones Weir (Barcaldine)1
2020-06-29 13:26Lake Hawthorn1
2020-06-13 09:15Dotswood Rd at Fanning River crossing1
2020-07-03 09:32Riverbank off River Blvd, Mildura2
2020-06-19 07:00Kilcowera Station2
2020-06-17 07:30Lake Bindegolly National Park1
2020-06-27 09:00Bohle Industrial Estate2
2020-07-07 14:20Carlyle Gardens Retirement Resort, Townsville1
2020-07-05 07:35Townsville Town Common Conservation Park2
2020-06-27 09:50Mt St John sewage Works1
2020-07-03 08:20Laudham Rd at Round Mountain Rd, Kelso1
2020-06-17 08:13Cape Pallarenda Conservation Park1
2020-06-25 11:22Ross River Dam Borrow Pits1
2020-06-09 08:56Garbutt East1
2020-06-21 16:16Ross River Dam, Riverway Dr and SW Hinterland1
2020-06-19 11:00Kilcowera Station--Youlaingee Creek catchment1
2020-06-14 15:00Lake Hindmarsh Lake Reserve--The Wattles2
2020-06-14 11:05Lake Albacutya Park--Western Beach Campground2
2020-06-14 10:38Old Flinders Hwy, Woodstock to Ross River Dam1
2020-06-18 09:42Timberoo Flora and Fauna Reserve2
2020-06-25 12:30Little Desert National Park--Salt Lake1
2020-06-17 11:21Dingo Park Rd, Reid River2
2020-06-13 11:10Mount Arapiles-Tooan State Park--Mount Arapiles1
2020-06-26 15:13Reed Beds Rd birding route1
2020-06-26 16:00Giru2
2020-06-19 08:00Natimuk, 6 Jory Street2
2020-06-15 12:15Wimmera Highway at Wimmera River1
2020-06-17 14:30Mungo National Park--Foreshore Walk1
2020-06-17 14:00Mungo Lookout1
2020-06-19 11:00Horsham Sewage Water Storage Dam1
2020-07-06 12:27Gama Bushland Reserve1
2020-07-01 08:07Mungo National Park3
2020-06-19 09:30Coughlin Park2
2020-07-06 16:00Bourke Milparinka Rd at -29.80530, 144.528422
2020-07-03 11:15Lake Tyrrell
2020-07-07 08:10Pine Lake8
2020-07-07 07:28Taylors Lake1
2020-07-07 10:35Grampians National Park--Mt Zero3
2020-06-30 13:34Green Lake Regional Park1
2020-07-02 12:45Eumeralla Estuary and Beach1
2020-07-05 07:32Charleville - Adavale Rd at Ward River1
2020-07-07 12:12Sandy Cove Conservation Reserve1
2020-06-09 09:10Belfast Lough1
2020-06-09 08:30Belfast Coastal Reserve--Skenes Rd1
2020-06-11 10:12Humeburn Rd, Cunnamulla at -28.010318, 145.67029271
2020-06-14 08:30Trilby Station Homestead and Camping area1
2020-06-28 11:30Collinsville Aerodrome1
2020-07-01 13:30Lake Boga1
2020-07-02 11:04Lake Tutchewop1
2020-06-16 14:33Lake Elphinstone1
2020-07-06 09:00Gundabooka National Park1
2020-06-14 14:07Tregole National Park1
2020-07-07 14:37Powlett Swamp1
2020-07-02 09:40Dunach State Forest--Northeast Block1
2020-06-20 13:00Mount Hope Nature Conservation Reserve1
2020-06-30 12:40Terrick Terrick National Park1
2020-06-26 08:19Terrick Terrick National Park--Grassland Section1
2020-06-27 07:56Mitiamo-Kow Swamp Rd Terrick Terrick1
2020-06-12 13:21Wetland on Bells Rd, Barunah Park2
2020-06-30 14:12Terrick Terrick National Park--The Meadows1
2020-06-29 14:00Aird Road Wetland2
2020-06-26 14:17Wetland on Cressy Rd at -38.12825, 143.761601
2020-06-25 13:17Taradale Mineral Springs Reserve1
2020-06-28 11:19Inverleigh Flora and Fauna Reserve--Old Shelford Track b/w Common Rd and Carrah Track1
2020-06-19 09:30Brisbane Ranges National Park--South of Steiglitz1
2020-06-23 11:30Brisbane Ranges National Park3
2020-07-05 10:30Lake Cooper--Boat Ramp1
2020-07-05 10:52Lake Cooper--Chiswell Road1
2020-06-09 10:15Lake Cooper
2020-07-05 10:10Lake Cooper--Willoughby Rd1
2020-06-30 13:30Gaynor Swamp Wildlife Reserve2
2020-06-27 15:01Balyang Sanctuary1
2020-06-28 10:57You Yangs Regional Park1
2020-06-13 09:29Surf Coast Walk, Torquay to Bells Beach1
2020-06-14 08:56Carn Creek Bridge3
2020-06-21 10:04Blackwater Creek at Tantallon Rd1
2020-07-01 11:47Barwon River at Horseshoe Bend Rd2
2020-06-29 14:15Limeburners Lagoon State Nature Reserve2
2020-07-06 12:05Avalon Beach1
2020-06-30 10:50Avalon Saltworks2
2020-07-04 08:59Sparrovale Wetlands--Central Section1
2020-06-18 11:40Moolap Saltworks2
2020-07-04 07:00Round Hill Nature Reserve--Whoey Tanks1
2020-07-04 09:32Sparrovale Wetlands--Levee, Lignum, Channels and Barge Hole1
2020-07-04 10:48Sparrovale Wetlands--Conservation Area1
2020-07-04 11:27Avalon Saltworks--Snake Island (restricted access)2
2020-06-21 09:00Eynesbury Forest and Grasslands1
2020-06-18 11:37Hospital Swamp--Hospital Swamps Rd1
2020-07-04 11:16Tait Point1
2020-06-16 13:40Black Rocks1
2020-07-01 09:31Belchers Lane, Connewarre1
2020-06-11 13:21Edsall Reserve1
2020-06-21 10:10Western Treatment Plant1
2020-06-22 13:00Old Truganina Cemetery1
2020-07-05 13:23Lake Victoria1
2020-07-03 12:10Chat Alley1
2020-06-28 13:43Skeleton Creek Boardwalk1
2020-06-09 14:03Lake Wyangan1
2020-06-27 09:10Truganina Park1
2020-07-01 09:00Finley1
2020-07-01 12:06Griffith
2020-07-01 10:00Broken Creek, Numurkah1
2020-07-03 10:00Jacana Wetland1
2020-06-24 09:05Gemmill Swamp Nature Conservation Reserve1
2020-06-26 11:04Altona Coastal Park1
2020-06-15 11:30Black Swamp (9 Mile Creek) State Game Reserve1
2020-06-13 10:33Kororoit Creek Mouth2
2020-06-16 13:30Mornington Peninsula National Park--Portsea Surf Beach1
2020-07-01 11:15Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve1
2020-06-24 15:15Lake Cargelligo--Leki C Hide1
2020-06-28 10:13Curlew Waters (Lake Cargelligo)1
2020-06-18 13:25Mornington Peninsula National Park--Bridgewater Bay1
2020-06-19 14:30Bellbird Park1
2020-07-01 09:35Plenty Gorge Park--South Morang Wetlands1
2020-06-27 16:02Red Bluff1
2020-07-07 12:47Lachlan River, Kiacatoo1
2020-07-04 14:31Mt Major1
2020-07-05 13:12Moodie Swamp Wetland Reserve1
2020-06-19 10:13Dandenong Valley Wetland1
2020-07-03 11:28Fivebough Wetlands1
2020-06-11 12:49Lilydale Sewage Treatment Plant1
2020-06-22 09:13Yarra Valley Trail, Lilydale to Coldstream1
2020-06-20 15:59The Nobbies1
2020-06-17 13:50Cowrie Beach1
2020-06-29 15:30Summerland Peninsula2
2020-06-14 09:27Royal Botanic Gardens (Cranbourne)1
2020-06-27 11:39Urana1
2020-07-01 13:51Narrandera1
2020-06-11 10:00Winton Wetlands--Dam Wall and Borrow Pits1
2020-07-04 15:36Winton Wetlands--11 Mile Creek Woodland1
2020-06-07 15:40Warren Wetlands and Wastewater Treatment Plant1
2020-06-23 13:20Rifle Range Wetland1
2020-07-05 16:01Docker Swamp1
2020-07-04 08:45Theodore Wastewater Treatment Plant2
2020-06-25 10:00Stanley1
2020-06-14 11:50Cheetham Salt Works, Port Alma Rd (restricted access)1
2020-06-24 11:25Biloela1
2020-06-17 14:00Osbornes Flat1
2020-06-25 13:00Running Creek Rd at Running Creek, Kancoona2
2020-07-02 14:40Devils Hole Reserve, Dubbo1
2020-06-28 11:55Nooramunga Marine Park--McLoughlins Beach1
2020-06-17 07:30Inverai Rd at Warra Canaga Creek Rd, Jandowae1
2020-06-28 13:12Orange Botanic Gardens1
2020-07-03 08:13Lake Broadwater Conservation Park1
2020-07-04 11:04Bingara Common Bird Route1
2020-07-05 14:03Cranky Rock Nature Reserve (Warialda)1
2020-07-03 09:13Gunnedah sewage treatment plant1
2020-06-08 09:00Shepherds Lookout1
2020-06-30 08:00West Belconnen Pond1
2020-06-09 15:00Kumbia1
2020-06-24 11:05Inglewood--Tobacco Rd1
2020-06-20 09:15Kama Nature Reserve1
2020-06-23 10:37Molonglo River--woodland track1
2020-06-17 12:13Molonglo River at -35.3171, 149.05771
2020-07-06 11:05Carroll1
2020-06-30 09:58Mosquito Creek Rd2
2020-06-08 08:10Mosquito Creek Rd--km 0.51
2020-06-12 15:51Jondaryan Nungil Rd at McGovern Rd2
2020-06-08 07:30Irongate Nature Conservation Reserve1
2020-06-23 12:46Jerrabomberra Wetlands Nature Reserve1
2020-06-17 09:46Jerrabomberra Wetlands NR--Billabong Loop1
2020-06-12 07:59Wallingford Rd at Pittsworth - Norwin Rd, Irongate1
2020-06-27 09:50Keongs Lagoon, Oakey (restricted access)4
2020-06-28 09:14Devon Park Boundary Rd, Oakey3
2020-07-05 08:27The Springs (Pittsworth)2
2020-06-28 11:30Capertee National Park1
2020-06-16 12:36Gore Rd between Cunningham Hwy and Cement Mills1
2020-06-27 16:35Back Creek at Cunningham Hwy1
2020-06-08 12:21Pindari Dam1
2020-07-05 07:09Capertee Valley1
2020-06-27 11:02Capertee Valley--Glen Alice Rd1
2020-06-07 13:45Flaggs Road, Gungal at -32.26889, 150.466942
2020-06-09 06:30Widden Brook (Restricted access)1
2020-06-24 13:14Flaggs Road at -32.27018, 150.473613
2020-06-29 07:00Capertee Valley--'Binalong' (restricted access)1
2020-06-28 09:14Goulburn Maturation Ponds (restricted access, Council key required)1
2020-07-05 09:00Little Hartley1
2020-06-24 10:24Denman3
2020-06-25 13:51Medhurst Bridge1
2020-06-10 14:32Wentworth Street Dam, Warwick2
2020-06-13 10:10New England Hwy at Diggles Rd, Glengallan2
2020-06-25 13:30Pecheys Lagoon, Lower Tenthill1
2020-06-17 09:45Colquhoun Dam1
2020-06-28 11:40Old Wallangarra Road1
2020-07-06 08:55John Hunter Motel, Muswellbrook2
2020-06-27 11:30Lake Clarendon2
2020-06-27 10:03Seven Mile Lagoon1
2020-06-12 13:30Banool Road1
2020-07-03 11:27Atkinsons Dam1
2020-06-16 15:49Blind Gully Rd (south end), Lockyer Waters2
2020-06-22 13:33New Berrima1
2020-06-08 07:20North Quarry, Penrith Lakes2
2020-06-27 08:36Emu Green, Emu Plains1
2020-07-05 12:28East Bowral1
2020-06-27 08:45Richmond Lowlands4
2020-06-16 07:50Penrith Swamp2
2020-07-02 07:00Theresa Park2
2020-06-20 10:30Bushells Lagoon2
2020-06-26 10:45Grieves Rd, Haigslea1
2020-06-13 10:50Moruya1
2020-07-04Tooloom National Park
2020-06-25 06:52Spring Creek Rd creek crossing2
2020-06-24 06:55Murrimo Rd at Tea Tree Ave, Mount Forbes1
2020-06-23 07:24Warrill View township1
2020-07-04 12:58Picton Road X M31, Wilton1
2020-06-16 12:18Spring Creek Rd at Teviot Brook, Carneys Creek1
2020-07-04 10:55Partridge VC Rest Area, Hume Hwy1
2020-07-05 09:57Mount Annan Botanic Gardens--Lake Nadungamba1
2020-07-03 09:08Yandina Creek Wetlands (restricted access)1
2020-06-26 08:50Hume Motorway (M31) at -34.06870, 150.778411
2020-06-12 12:30Coila Lake1
2020-06-29 11:20Lakes Edge Park1
2020-07-04 15:50Finland Road, Paradise Waters1
2020-07-05 15:00Bow Bowing Park, Minto1
2020-06-22 09:29Boonah2
2020-06-20 14:45Broke Rd Lagoon1
2020-07-04 12:20Jaspers Brush1
2020-06-19 12:45Farm Dam at -27.59053, 152.89436 (Priors Pocket Rd)1
2020-06-10 11:15Integral Park, West Dapto1
2020-07-04 13:12Priors Pocket (Moggill)1
2020-06-19 10:04Swamp Rd, Dunmore (south end)1
2020-07-05 12:28Princes Highway at Toolijooa Road2
2020-07-04 11:30Swamp Road, Kiama Downs1
2020-06-09 07:17Oxley Creek Common1
2020-06-10 12:47Bulli1
2020-07-06 13:30Wollongong Golf Course--Bank Street Ponds1
2020-06-20 10:45Wollongong City Beach1
2020-06-27 09:18Stanwell Park1
2020-06-09 07:45Gerroa2
2020-07-04 12:30Werri Lagoon Swamp1
2020-06-30 11:28MM Beach, Port Kembla2
2020-06-18 14:46Werri Beach3
2020-06-18 15:20Black Head (Gerroa)2
2020-06-23 08:25Brisbane Airport1
2020-06-30 12:42Mill Stream Lookout (Botany)1
2020-07-03 08:29Greenhills Beach Wetland1
2020-07-05 13:55Penrhyn Estuary, Botany Bay1
2020-06-10 09:18Port Botany1
2020-06-20 08:29Beaudesert-Beenleigh Rd at -27.96845, 153.063151
2020-06-26 13:25Long Reef Golf Course1
2020-07-03 12:40La Perouse1
2020-07-05 12:13Kamay Botany Bay National Park--Cape Solander1
2020-07-03 08:00Long Reef Aquatic Reserve2
2020-07-06 13:54Kamay Botany Bay National Park--Cape Solander Lookout1
2020-06-14 19:49Malabar Headland National Park--Western Walking Track1
2020-06-14 15:30Boardwalk from Burrows Park to Bronte Beach1
2020-06-13 14:56South Maroubra1
2020-06-12 08:20Magic Point, Maroubra1
2020-07-01 10:50Hexham Swamp Nature Reserve1
2020-07-03 08:30Ash Island2
2020-06-23 13:15Hunter Estuary--Shipwreck1
2020-06-20 10:41Nobbys Beach1
2020-06-23 13:01Newcastle Breakwater1
2020-06-12 14:55Isaacs Lane, Johns River1