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November 22, 2017  |  Login

Mauritius Kestrel
Falco punctatus

What Are They Like?

The Mauritius kestrel is a small, forest-dwelling falcon with short wings and a long tail. Adults measure 8-10 inches (20-25 centimeters) long and weigh 6-8 ounces (170 - 227 grams). The plumage on their back, upper wings and tail is brown with a barred black pattern, and the feathers on their undersides are white with several dark brown and black spots. The Mauritius kestrel is well-adapted for life in the forest. Its short wings make it extremely maneuverable under the forest canopy.

Where Do They Live?

Mauritius kestrels can only be found on the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. They inhabit the sub-tropical rainforest and sub-tropical evergreen forest.

 
Did You Know?
In 1974 the wild population was reduced to four known individuals.

How Are Babies Made?

Mauritius kestrels typically breed once a year, between August and November. Females will lay a clutch of four or five eggs, which will be incubated for about 30 days. The chicks will usually leave the nest after three months and remain within the mother's territory for at least a year.

What Do They Eat?

Mauritius kestrels mainly prey on geckos, but will also eat small birds and insects.

 
Did You Know?
Monkeys, mongooses and black rats prey on the eggs of the Mauritius kestrel.

What Do They Do?

Mauritius kestrels are solitary birds of prey and tend to occupy a large range. They typically hunt by perching in a tree and patiently waiting for prey to appear. Once prey is spotted, they move swiftly through the trees and swoop down to snatch them with their powerful talons. During breeding season, Mauritius kestrels will build nests in tree cavities, or in hollowed out crevices in the sides of cliffs.

How Concerned Should We Be?

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which keeps a "Red List" of species in danger worldwide, lists the Mauritius kestrel as "vulnerable." The biggest threats this kestral faces are habitat loss and pesticide poisoning. At one point, the Mauritius kestrel was on the brink of extinction.

What's Being Done?

With the help of The Peregrine Fund, the Mauritian Wildlife Appeal Fund, and others, a dramatic and hopeful recovery has taken place. Through a series of successful captive breeding and release programs, along with intensive management of wild pairs, the population has grown significantly, and the Mauritius kestrel's "endangered" status has been downgraded to "vulnerable." Currently, there are believed to be more than 1,000 Mauritian kestrels in the wild.

 

Mauritius Kestrel

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