Common kestrel

The common kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) is a bird of prey species belonging to the kestrel group of the falcon family Falconidae. It is also known as the European kestrel, Eurasian kestrel, or Old World kestrel. In Britain, where no other kestrel species occurs, it is generally just called "the kestrel".[2]

This species occurs over a large range. It is widespread in Europe, Asia, and Africa, as well as occasionally reaching the east coast of North America. It has colonized a few oceanic islands, but vagrant individuals are generally rare; in the whole of Micronesia for example, the species was only recorded twice each on Guam and Saipan in the Marianas.[3][4][5]

Common kestrel
Common kestrel falco tinnunculus
Adult male Falco tinnunculus tinnunculus
Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus Tal Chappar Rajasthan India 14.02.2013
Female (♀) Falco tinnunculus tinnunculus from Tal Chhapar Sanctuary, Churu, Rajasthan, India
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Falconiformes
Family: Falconidae
Genus: Falco
Species:
F. tinnunculus
Binomial name
Falco tinnunculus
Subspecies

About 10, see text

European Kestrel Distribution
Global map of eBird reports of F. t. tinnunculus     Year-Round Range     Summer Range     Winter Range
Synonyms

Falco rupicolus Daudin, 1800 (but see text)
Falco tinnunculus interstictus (lapsus)

Description

Common kestrels measure 32–39 cm (13–15 in) from head to tail, with a wingspan of 65–82 cm (26–32 in). Females are noticeably larger, with the adult male weighing 136–252 g (4.8–8.9 oz), around 155 g (5.5 oz) on average; the adult female weighs 154–314 g (5.4–11.1 oz), around 184 g (6.5 oz) on average. They are thus small compared with other birds of prey, but larger than most songbirds. Like the other Falco species, they have long wings as well as a distinctive long tail.[3]

Their plumage is mainly light chestnut brown with blackish spots on the upperside and buff with narrow blackish streaks on the underside; the remiges are also blackish. Unlike most raptors, they display sexual colour dimorphism with the male having fewer black spots and streaks, as well as a blue-grey cap and tail. The tail is brown with black bars in females, and has a black tip with a narrow white rim in both sexes. All common kestrels have a prominent black malar stripe like their closest relatives.[3]

The cere, feet, and a narrow ring around the eye are bright yellow; the toenails, bill and iris are dark. Juveniles look like adult females, but the underside streaks are wider; the yellow of their bare parts is paler. Hatchlings are covered in white down feathers, changing to a buff-grey second down coat before they grow their first true plumage.[3]

Common Kestrel 2

Adult male F. t. tinnunculus landing

Falco tinnunculus NRM

Young male F. t. tinnunculus during ringing

Common Kestrel

Closeup of adult male

Falco 003

Female F. t. tinnunculus

Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) male

Male in the wild

Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) male in flight 2

Hovering
tail feathers closed

Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) male in flight

Hovering
tail feathers spread

Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) skull at the Royal Veterinary College anatomy museum

Skull

Behaviour and ecology

In the cool-temperate parts of its range, the common kestrel migrates south in winter; otherwise it is sedentary, though juveniles may wander around in search for a good place to settle down as they become mature. It is a diurnal animal of the lowlands and prefers open habitat such as fields, heaths, shrubland and marshland. It does not require woodland to be present as long as there are alternative perching and nesting sites like rocks or buildings. It will thrive in treeless steppe where there are abundant herbaceous plants and shrubs to support a population of prey animals. The common kestrel readily adapts to human settlement, as long as sufficient swathes of vegetation are available, and may even be found in wetlands, moorlands and arid savanna. It is found from the sea to the lower mountain ranges, reaching up to 4,500 m (14,800 ft) ASL in the hottest tropical parts of its range but only to about 1,750 m (5,740 ft) in the subtropical climate of the Himalayan foothills.[3][6]

Globally, this species is not considered threatened by the IUCN.[1] Its stocks were affected by the indiscriminate use of organochlorines and other pesticides in the mid-20th century, but being something of an r-strategist able to multiply quickly under good conditions it was less affected than other birds of prey. The global population is fluctuating considerably over the years but remains generally stable; it is roughly estimated at 1–2 million pairs or so, about 20% of which are found in Europe. There has been a recent decline in parts of Western Europe such as Ireland. Subspecies dacotiae is quite rare, numbering less than 1000 adult birds in 1990, when the ancient western Canarian subspecies canariensis numbered about ten times as many birds.[3]

Food and feeding

Common-Kestrel-4
Common-Kestrel-2

When hunting, the common kestrel characteristically hovers about 10–20 m (33–66 ft) above the ground, searching for prey, either by flying into the wind or by soaring using ridge lift. Like most birds of prey, common kestrels have keen eyesight enabling them to spot small prey from a distance. Once prey is sighted, the bird makes a short, steep dive toward the target. It can often be found hunting along the sides of roads and motorways. This species is able to see near ultraviolet light, allowing the birds to detect the urine trails around rodent burrows as they shine in an ultraviolet colour in the sunlight.[7] Another favourite (but less conspicuous) hunting technique is to perch a bit above the ground cover, surveying the area. When the birds spots prey animals moving by, they will pounce on them. They also prowl a patch of hunting ground in a ground-hugging flight, ambushing prey as they happen across it.[3]

Microtus subterraneus (Cologne, Germany)
European pine vole (Microtus subterraneus), a typical common kestrel prey since prehistoric times
Common-Kestrel-5

Common kestrels eat almost exclusively mouse-sized mammals. Voles, shrews and true mice supply up to three-quarters or more of the biomass most individuals ingest. On oceanic islands (where mammals are often scarce), small birds (mainly passerines) may make up the bulk of its diet.[5] Elsewhere, birds are only an important food during a few weeks each summer when inexperienced fledglings abound. Other suitably sized vertebrates like bats, swifts,[8] frogs and lizards are eaten only on rare occasions. However, kestrels are more likely to prey on lizards in southern latitudes. In northern latitudes, the kestrel is found more often to deliver lizards to their nestlings during midday and also with increasing ambient temperature.[9] Seasonally, arthropods may be a main prey item. Generally, invertebrates like camel spiders and even earthworms, but mainly sizeable insects such as beetles, orthopterans and winged termites will be eaten.[3]

F. tinnunculus requires the equivalent of 4–8 voles a day, depending on energy expenditure (time of the year, amount of hovering, etc.). They have been known to catch several voles in succession and cache some for later consumption. An individual nestling consumes on average 4.2 g/h, equivalent to 67.8 g/d (3–4 voles per day).[10]

Reproduction

The common kestrel starts breeding in spring (or the start of the dry season in the tropics), i.e. April or May in temperate Eurasia and some time between August and December in the tropics and southern Africa. It is a cavity nester, preferring holes in cliffs, trees or buildings; in built-up areas, common kestrels will often nest on buildings, and will reuse the old nests of corvids. The diminutive subspecies dacotiae, the sarnicolo of the eastern Canary Islands is peculiar for nesting occasionally in the dried fronds below the top of palm trees, apparently coexisting with small songbirds which also make their home there.[11] In general, common kestrels will usually tolerate conspecifics nesting nearby, and sometimes a few dozen pairs may be found nesting in a loose colony.[3]

Falco tinnunculus with rodent am
Male F. t. tinnunculus bringing food to nest

The clutch is normally 3–7 eggs; more eggs may be laid in total but some will be removed during the laying time. This lasts about 2 days per egg laid. The eggs are abundantly patterned with brown spots, from a wash that tinges the entire surface buffish white to large almost-black blotches. Incubation lasts from 4 weeks to one month, and only the female incubates the eggs. The male is responsible for providing her with food, and for some time after hatching this remains the same. Later, both parents share brooding and hunting duties until the young fledge, after 4–5 weeks. The family stays close together for a few weeks, during which time the young learn how to fend for themselves and hunt prey. The young become sexually mature the next breeding season.[3]

Data from Britain shows nesting pairs bringing up about 2–3 chicks on average, though this includes a considerable rate of total brood failures; actually, few pairs that do manage to fledge offspring raise less than 3 or 4. Compared to their siblings, first-hatched chicks have greater survival and recruitment probability, thought to be due to the first-hatched chicks obtaining a higher body condition when in the nest.[12] Population cycles of prey, particularly voles, have a considerable influence on breeding success. Most common kestrels die before they reach 2 years of age; mortality up until the first birthday may be as high as 70%. At least females generally breed at one year of age;[13] possibly, some males take a year longer to maturity as they do in related species. The biological lifespan to death from senescence can be 16 years or more, however; one was recorded to have lived almost 24 years.[13]

Faucon crécerelle MHNT

Egg

Falcon3

Hatchling (note white down)

Falken(loz)

Fledglings in nest cavity

Turmfalke P1020197

Immature after fledging

Pst7

Evolution and systematics

This species is part of a clade that contains the kestrel species with black malar stripes, a feature which apparently was not present in the most ancestral kestrels. They seem to have radiated in the Gelasian (Late Pliocene,[14] roughly 2.5–2 mya, probably starting in tropical East Africa, as indicated by mtDNA cytochrome b sequence data analysis and considerations of biogeography. The common kestrel's closest living relative is apparently the nankeen or Australian kestrel (F. cenchroides), which probably derived from ancestral common kestrels settling in Australia and adapting to local conditions less than one million years ago, during the Middle Pleistocene.[15]

The rock kestrel (F. rupicolus), previously considered a subspecies, is now treated as a distinct species.

The lesser kestrel (F. naumanni), which much resembles a small common kestrel with no black on the upperside except wing and tail tips, is probably not very closely related to the present species, and the American kestrel (F. sparverius) is apparently not a true kestrel at all.[15] Both species have much grey in their wings in males, which does not occur in the common kestrel or its close living relatives but does in almost all other falcons.

Subspecies

Falco tinnunculus -El Castillo del Romeral, Canary Islands, Spain-8
F. t. canariensis on Gran Canaria
Common kestrel (Falco tinnunculus), Hurghada, Egypt - 20110923
F.t. from Hurghada

A number of subspecies of the common kestrel are known, though some are hardly distinct and may be invalid. Most of them differ little, and mainly in accordance with Bergmann's and Gloger's Rules. Tropical African forms have less grey in the male plumage.[3]

  • Falco tinnunculus tinnunculus Linnaeus, 1758
Temperate areas of Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia north of the Hindu Kush-Himalaya mountain ranges to the NW Sea of Okhotsk region. Northern Asian populations migrate south in winter, apparently not crossing the Himalayas but diverting to the west.
Sahel east to Ethiopia, southwards around Congo basin to S Tanzania and NE Angola.
Has dark heavily marked birds and has a foxed red phase but not reliably identified in the field. Breeds East Asia from Tibet to Korea and Japan, south into Indochina. Winters to the south of its breeding range, from northeastern India to the Philippines (where it is localized, e.g. from Mindanao only two records exist).[16][17]
Arabian Peninsula except in the desert and across the Red Sea into Africa.
Northern Cape Verde Islands.
  • F. t. canariensis (Koenig, 1890)
Madeira and western Canary Islands. The more ancient Canaries subspecies.
  • F. t. dacotiae Hartert, 1913 – Local name: cernícalo
Eastern Canary Islands: Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, Chinijo Archipelago. A more recently evolved subspecies than canariensis.
  • F. t. objurgatus (Baker, 1929)
Western, Nilgiris and Eastern Ghats of India; Sri Lanka. Heavily marked, has rufous thighs with dark grey head in males.[17][18]
  • F. t. archerii (Hartert & Neumann, 1932)
Somalia, coastal Kenya, and Socotra
  • F. t. alexandri Bourne, 1955
Southwestern Cape Verde Islands.

The common kestrels of Europe living during cold periods of the Quaternary glaciation differed slightly in size from the current population; they are sometimes referred to as the paleosubspecies F. t. atavus (see also Bergmann's Rule). The remains of these birds, which presumably were the direct ancestors of the living F. t. tinnunculus (and perhaps other subspecies), are found throughout the then-unglaciated parts of Europe, from the Late Pliocene (ELMA Villanyian/ICS Piacenzian, MN16) about 3 million years ago to the Middle Pleistocene Saalian glaciation which ended about 130,000 years ago, when they finally gave way to birds indistinguishable from those living today. Some of the voles the Ice Age common kestrels ate—such as European pine voles (Microtus subterraneus)—were indistinguishable from those alive today. Other prey species of that time evolved more rapidly (like M. malei, the presumed ancestor of today's tundra vole M. oeconomus), while yet again others seem to have gone entirely extinct without leaving any living descendants—for example Pliomys lenki, which apparently fell victim to the Weichselian glaciation about 100,000 years ago.[19][20]

In culture

The kestrel is sometimes seen, like other birds of prey, as a symbol of the power and vitality of nature. In "Into Battle" (1915), the war poet Julian Grenfell invokes the superhuman characteristics of the kestrel among several birds, when hoping for prowess in battle:

"The kestrel hovering by day,

And the little owl that call at night,
Bid him be swift and keen as they,

As keen of ear, as swift of sight."

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–1889) writes on the kestrel in his poem "The Windhover", exalting in their mastery of flight and their majesty in the sky.

"I caught this morning morning's minion, king-
dom of daylight's dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding"

A kestrel is also one of the main characters in The Animals of Farthing Wood.

Barry Hines’ novel A Kestrel for a Knave - together with the 1969 film based on it, Ken Loach's Kes - is about a working-class boy in England who befriends a kestrel.

The Pathan name for the kestrel, Bād Khurak, means "wind hover" and in Punjab it is called Larzānak or "little hoverer". It was once used as a decoy to capture other birds of prey in Persia and Arabia. It was also used to train greyhounds meant for hunting gazelles in parts of Arabia. Young greyhounds would be set after jerboa-rats which would also be distracted and forced to make twists and turns by the dives of a kestrel.[21]

Etymology

The name "kestrel" is derived from the French crécerelle which is diminutive for crécelle, which also referred to a bell used by lepers. The word first appears in 1678 in the work of Francis Willughby.[22] The kestrel was once used to drive and keep away pigeons.[23] Archaic names for the kestrel include windhover and windfucker, due to its habit of beating the wind (hovering in air).[24]

The Late Latin falco derives from falx, falcis, a sickle, referencing the claws of the bird.[25] The species name tinnunculus is Latin for "kestrel" from "tinnulus", "shrill".[26]

Footnotes

  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2013). "Falco tinnunculus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  2. ^ Mangoverde World Bird Guide 2009
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Orta 1994
  4. ^ Wiles et al. 2000
  5. ^ a b Wiles et al. 2004
  6. ^ Inskipp, Inskipp & Sherub 2000
  7. ^ Viitala et al. 1995
  8. ^ Mikula, Hromada & Tryjanowski 2013
  9. ^ Steen, Løw & Sonerud 2011a
  10. ^ Steen et al. 2011b
  11. ^ Álamo Tavío 1975
  12. ^ Martínez-Padilla, J.; Vergara, P.; Fargallo, J. A. (2017). "Increased lifetime reproductive success of first-hatched siblings in Common Kestrels Falco tinnunculus". Ibis. 159 (4): 803–811. doi:10.1111/ibi.12494.
  13. ^ a b AnAge 2010
  14. ^ Possibly to be reclassified as Early Pleistocene.
  15. ^ a b See Groombridge et al. 2002 for a thorough discussion of common kestrel and relatives' divergence times.
  16. ^ Peterson et al. 2008
  17. ^ a b Rasmussen & Anderton 2005
  18. ^ Whistler 1949, pp. 385–387
  19. ^ Mlíkovský 2002, pp. 222–223
  20. ^ Mourer-Chauviré et al. 2003
  21. ^ Phillott, D.C. (1832). "Note on the Common Kestril (Tinnunculus alaudarius)". Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. 2 (10): 527–528.
  22. ^ Swann 1913
  23. ^ Weekley 1921
  24. ^ "kestrel". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  25. ^ Shorter Oxford English dictionary. United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. 2007. p. 3804. ISBN 978-0199206872.
  26. ^ Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. pp. 266, 386. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.

References

External links

Algatocín

Algatocín is a town and municipality in the province of Málaga, part of the autonomous community of Andalusia in southern Spain. The municipality is situated approximately 143 kilometres (89 mi) from Málaga and 30 kilometres (19 mi) from Ronda. It is located in the west of the province in the Valle del Genal, being one of the towns that make up the comarca of the Serrania de Ronda. It is situated at an altitude of 725 metres (2,379 ft). The town has a population of approximately 900 residents, over a surface area of 20 square kilometres (7.7 sq mi), for a population density of 47 inhabitants per square kilometre (120/sq mi).

Eufalconimorphae

Eufalconimorphae is a proposed clade of birds, consisting of passerines, parrots, falcons, caracaras, and forest falcons (but not other raptors). It has whole-genome DNA support.

Falcon

Falcons () are birds of prey in the genus Falco, which includes about 40 species. Falcons are widely distributed on all continents of the world except Antarctica, though closely-related raptors did occur there in the Eocene.Adult falcons have thin, tapered wings, which enable them to fly at high speed and change direction rapidly. Fledgling falcons, in their first year of flying, have longer flight feathers, which make their configuration more like that of a general-purpose bird such as a broad-wing. This makes flying easier while learning the exceptional skills required to be effective hunters as adults. There are many different types of falcon.

The falcons are the largest genus in the Falconinae subfamily of Falconidae, which itself also includes another subfamily comprising caracaras and a few other species. All these birds kill with their beaks, using a "tooth" on the side of their beaks—unlike the hawks, eagles, and other birds of prey in the Accipitridae, which use their feet.

The largest falcon is the gyrfalcon at up to 65 cm in length. The smallest falcons are the kestrels, of which the Seychelles kestrel measures just 25 cm. As with hawks and owls, falcons exhibit sexual dimorphism, with the females typically larger than the males, thus allowing a wider range of prey species.Some small falcons with long, narrow wings are called "hobbies" and some which hover while hunting are called "kestrels".As is the case with many birds of prey, falcons have exceptional powers of vision; the visual acuity of one species has been measured at 2.6 times that of a normal human. Peregrine falcons have been recorded diving at speeds of 200 miles per hour (320 km/h), making them the fastest-moving creatures on Earth. The fastest recorded dive for one is 390 km/h.

Hazarganji-Chiltan National Park

Hazarganji Chiltan National Park is a national park in the Mastung District of western Balochistan Province of Pakistan. It lies between Chiltan on its west and Hazarganji on the east. The park was established in 1980 to provide the habitat to rare Chiltan ibexes found in the area.It was established in 1980 and covers 325,000 acre of land located close to the Koh-i-Chiltan mountain in Quetta's outskirt.The park is located in the Sulaiman Mountains, with desert and forest habitats, about 20 kilometres (12 mi) southwest of the city of Quetta.

Hoverberget

Hoverberget is a mountain on a peninsula in the southern part of the Storsjön lake. The mountain, a significant landmark and a Natura 2000 designated nature reserve, lies within Berg Municipality in the southern parts of Jämtland in northern Sweden. The village of Berg lies on the south slope of the Hoverberget, which is 255 m (837 ft) above the Storsjön and the surrounding area, and culminates at 548 m (1,798 ft) above sea level.

Hoverberget is made of porphyry, and originates from the same period as the Scandinavian Mountains. For millions of years it has been moving eastwards, and it now lies isolated and apart from other mountains. The mountain is rich in flora, with several orchid species, and many of the plants grow at their northernmost growth boundary. There are several rare species of moss and lichen. The mountain also has a rich bird life, with many birds of prey such as the common kestrel, the Eurasian sparrowhawk and the long-eared owl. Besides more common mammals, Hoverberget is also home to Eurasian lynx.The tourist attraction called the Hoverberg Cave (Hoverbergsgrottan) is170 m (560 ft) deep, and is the largest rock cave in Scandinavia. It was discovered 1897 by Jöns Väst, a Swedish-American. 81 m (266 ft) of the cave is accessible to visitors. Less known is the Fissure (Rämnan), a large ravine in the mountain with a length of about 400 m (1,300 ft) and a depth of about 25 m (82 ft), that is visible from the west and even from the county highway (länsväg) 321. According to a folk tale, a giant called the Old Man of Hoverberg Lad (Hoverbergsgubben) resided in the cave, but he moved out when people began to tidy the cave.At the top of Hoverberget is a small café, which is open in the summer season. Adjacent to it is an observation tower, for those who want to look for the lake monster Storsjöodjuret, a folkloric phenomenon in the lake, or to enjoy the view.

Ilhéu de Curral Velho and adjacent coast Important Bird Area

The Ilhéu de Curral Velho and adjacent coast Important Bird Area lies in the southeastern part of the island of Boa Vista in the Cape Verde archipelago off the coast of north-west Africa in the Atlantic Ocean. It is a 986 ha site consisting of the Ilhéu de Curral Velho, as well as the area opposite it on Boa Vista centred on the deserted village of Curral Velho. It was designated as a Ramsar wetland of international importance on July 18, 2005.

The 0.77 ha (1.9-acre) Ilhéu de Curral Velho is an unvegetated, heavily eroded, calcareous rock, 15 metres (49 ft) in height, lying some 500 m (1,600 ft) off the southernmost point of Boavista. The island and a 41 ha marine area around it are a protected nature reserve (Reserva Natural Integral Ilhéu de Curral Velho).The area on the main island consists of sand-dunes, a lagoon and an oasis with a vegetation dominated by palm trees, acacias and Tamarix senegalensis. It has a typical arid-zone flora and fauna. The sandy beaches are important nesting sites for threatened Hawksbill and Loggerhead sea turtles. Lizards found in the area include Chioninia stangeri and Hemidactylus bouvieri. The islet is a nesting area for the brown booby, magnificent frigatebird and Cape Verde shearwater. Birds breeding on the adjacent mainland coast include Iago sparrow, common kestrel, common quail, cream-colored courser, Kentish plover and many other species.

Indian Ocean kestrels

Isolated on various islands around the Indian Ocean, kestrel populations evolved into different species, like Darwin's finches. Behaviour remains similar to other small species of Falco (such as the common kestrel, Falco tinnunculus) except on (originally) forested Mauritius where kestrels hunt arboreally more like hawks. Due to the scarcity of mammals on oceanic islands, several species have adopted a diet containing many Phelsuma and other geckos. The species can be distinguished by coloration, but all except the banded kestrel share rich brown wings with black spotting. Sexes are alike in color except in the spotted kestrel, where differences are minor. As usual in birds of prey, females are larger than males; considerably so in some of these species as this assists resource partitioning.

Kestrel

The name kestrel (from French crécerelle, derivative from crécelle, i.e. ratchet) is given to several members of the falcon genus, Falco. Kestrels are most easily distinguished by their typical hunting behaviour which is to hover at a height of around 10–20 metres (35–65 ft) over open country and swoop down on prey, usually small mammals, lizards or large insects. Other falcons are more adapted to active hunting in flight. Kestrels are notable for usually having mostly brown in their plumage.

Lesser kestrel

The lesser kestrel (Falco naumanni) is a small falcon. This species breeds from the Mediterranean across Afghanistan and Central Asia, to China and Mongolia. It is a summer migrant, wintering in Africa and Pakistan and sometimes even to India and Iraq. It is rare north of its breeding range, and declining in its European range. The genus name derives from Late Latin falx, falcis, a sickle, referencing the claws of the bird, and the species name commemorates the German naturalist Johann Friedrich Naumann.

Moorhouse and Cross Fell

Moorhouse and Cross Fell is a Site of Special Scientific Interest covering an extensive area of moorland in the Wear Valley district of west County Durham and the Eden district of Cumbria, England. It is contiguous with Upper Teesdale SSSI to the east and Appleby Fells SSSI to the south. The area covered extends roughly from an arc through the villages of Gamblesby, Leadgate and Garrigill southward as far as Milburn in the west and Cow Green Reservoir in the east. It includes the whole of Cross Fell, the summit of which, at 893 metres asl, is the highest point in the Pennines and in England outside the Lake District.

The area is important for its wide variety of upland habitats, especially blanket bog, sub-montane and montane heath, montane bryophyte heath, limestone grassland and flushes, and for the fauna and flora that they support. The site also includes a number of localities of geological interest.More than forty species of birds breed in the area, including several raptors—merlin, peregrine, common buzzard, common kestrel, short-eared owl—and waders—Eurasian golden plover, dunlin, common sandpiper, northern lapwing, Eurasian curlew, common redshank, and common snipe—whose survival is threatened; four (merlin, peregrine, golden plover and short-eared owl) are listed in Annex 1 of the European Commission's Birds Directive as requiring special protection and others (including lapwing and dunlin) are listed in the United Kingdom's Red Data Book (Birds).The invertebrate fauna is best known from studies conducted over many years at the Moor House NNR. The area shares many characteristics with the Cairngorms region of Scotland but there are some notable rarities, including a rove beetle, Olophrum assimile, which is known from only one other locality in Britain, a carabid beetle, Nebria nivalis, which has not been found anywhere else in the North Pennines and is known elsewhere in Britain only from North Wales, the Cairngorms and Scafell Pike, and a leiodid beetle, Hydnobius spinipes, which is known from only four other localities in Britain. In all, some 27 endangered species and over 70 nationally scarce species have been recorded from the Moor House reserve.Although the area has a variety of habitats, it is the montane vegetation that is particularly notable. The summit of Cross Fell is dominated by a heath in which the moss Racromitium lanuginosum is dominant and is the most extensive area of such heath in England. Other notable montane and sub-montane species include hair sedge, Carex capillaris, northern bedstraw, Galium boreale, mountain everlasting, Antennaria dioica, and alpine forget-me-not, Myosotis alpestris.Within the site are five localities of geological interest, of which the following are particularly notable:

Knock Fell Caverns — situated at the head of Knock Ore Gill, this is the most extensive maze cave system in Britain.

Cross Fell — together with the Dun Fells and Knock Fell, this area is important both for its examples of periglacial landforms and because some periglacial processes are still active.

Nikaj-Mërtur Regional Nature Park

The Nikaj-Mërtur Regional Nature Park (Albanian: Parku Natyror Rajonal Nikaj-Mërtur) is a regional nature park in northern Albania, strategically inside the southeastern Albanian Alps in Tropojë. The park is an area of alpine landscapes, deep valleys, vertical cliffs, dense coniferous and deciduous forests, small lakes and rivers. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed the park as Category IV. Like most of the Albanian Alps, it is listed as an important Plant Area, because it supports significant plant species.The park lies within the Albanian Alps and borders Theth National Park in the northeast and Valbonë Valley National Park in the north and northeast. It is proposed to expand the park's boundaries and merge it with Valbonë Valley and Theth to establish the Balkan Peace Park. The Albanian Alps are a continuation of the Dinaric Alps, which extend from northeastern Italy down to northern Albania.

Located between the steep and rugged topography of the Albanian Alps, the region is characterized by significant diversity in flora. The region falls within the Dinaric Alpine mixed forests terrestrial ecoregion of the Palearctic Temperate broadleaf and mixed forest. The vegetation of the park includes many communities of a Mediterranean and Eurasian type. It is covered by a mixture of oak, beech and pine trees growing on limestone and dolomite, which is characteristically to the Alps. The most widespread floral communities of oak are dominated by italian oak, austrian oak, sessile oak and macedonian oak. The beech and pine trees are represented by species such as european beech, bosnian pine and austrian pine.The park features a great variety of ecosystems and shelters wildlife. It dwells a number of various species that are fast becoming rare in Southern Europe, with animals such as the eurasian lynx which inhabits the rugged forested areas, the endangered brown bear and gray wolf. Moreover, the woods provide also shelter for species including chamois, western capercaillie and griffon vulture. The park is an important sanctuary of the peregrine falcon and common kestrel.

Ortobene

Mount Ortobene (Orthobene in the local dialect) is a mountain in the province of Nuoro, in central Sardinia, Italy, close to the town of Nuoro.

There are two main parks: "Sedda Ortai" and "Il Redentore". At the feet of the mountain is a nuraghe archaeological area including the Domus de janas tombs. On the mountain's top is the bronze "Statue of Christ the Redeemer" by Vincenzo Jerace (1901).

Flora of the Ortobene include mostly holm oaks, while wildlife include Sardinian wild boar, weasel, marten, garden dormouse, Sardinian fox, European hare, Barbary partridge, great and lesser spotted woodpecker, Eurasian jay, blue rock-thrush, wood pigeon, Dartford warbler, goshawk, Eurasian sparrowhawk, common kestrel, peregrine falcon and golden eagle.

Grazia Deledda, Nobel Prize in Literature in 1926, wrote about Mount Ortobene:

No, it's not true that the Ortobene can be compared to other mountains; there's only one Ortobene in the whole world: it's our heart, it's our soul, our character, everything big and small, kind and tough and rough and sorrowful in us.

Riserva naturale dello Zingaro

Riserva naturale dello zingaro was the first natural reserve set up in Sicily in May 1981, located almost completely in the municipal territory of San Vito Lo Capo. It stretches along some seven kilometers of unspoilt coastline of the Gulf of Castellammare and its mountain chain, the setting of steep cliffs and little bays.

The Zingaro Reserve has a large variety and abundance of rare and endemic plants it also has a rich fauna. The highly varied ecological niches give a great diversity which is not easily found in others parts of the island. In the Zingaro Reserve at least 39 species of birds nest and mate, mainly birds of prey, including the peregrine falcon, the common kestrel and the common buzzard. The area has also a rich archaeological past; for example the spectacular Grotta dell'Uzzo was one of the first prehistoric settlements in Sicily. The reserve has a complex network of paths, shelters, water taps, picnic areas, museums, carpark, and other amenities; there are no roads and it can only be visited on foot.The Zingaro Reserve does not only include the land, but also the sea and beaches, which stretch along the coast for almost 7 km. The beautiful beaches, pebbled and lapped by the clear blue sea, can be reached along various rather steep paths.

Rock kestrel

The rock kestrel (Falco rupicolus) is a bird of prey species belonging to the kestrel group of the falcon family Falconidae. It was previously considered a subspecies of the common kestrel (Falco tinnunculus).This species occurs in Africa, from northwestern Angola and southern Democratic Republic of Congo to southern Tanzania, and south to South Africa.

Réunion kestrel

The Réunion kestrel (Falco duboisi) is an extinct bird of prey which belongs to the falcon family. It inhabited the Mascarene island of Réunion and was part of the Western Indian Ocean radiation of kestrels.

Known from subfossil bones and the writings of Dubois published in 1674, this bird was larger than its relative F. punctatus on Mauritius, being about the size of a common kestrel, or around 35 cm from head to tail, with males being noticeably smaller than females. This trait, while present in most birds of prey, is most pronounced in the larger, bird-eating species and reduces between-sex competition by niche differentiation. It can be assumed that the bird was of the same generally brownish coloration as its closest relatives, with a lighter underside and darker spots or stipples, the tail, brown or more probably grey, being banded and tipped black. Its feet were yellow and large relative to the bird's overall size. The wingspan was 60–70 cm, its wings being more rounded than those of the common kestrel - just as in the Mauritius bird - for increased maneuvrability when hunting in the forest. It is probable, but not certain, that the only difference between the sexes was their size. The bird fed mainly on birds, but certainly also on insects and the local gecko; Dubois noted that despite their small size they were able to prey on (presumably half-grown) domestic chickens.

Skomer vole

The Skomer vole (Myodes glareolus skomerensis) is a subspecies of bank vole endemic to the island of Skomer, off the west coast of Wales. The bank vole was probably introduced by humans at some time after the last glaciation. It is one of four small mammal species on Skomer. There are approximately 20,000 voles on the island. The vole's main predators are owls, but it is also eaten by other predators, including common kestrel, common buzzard and peregrine falcon. Like other voles they are short-lived, surviving to around 18 months old at most. At their largest they are roughly 12 centimetres (4.7 in) long and weigh a maximum of 40 grams (1.4 oz).

The Windhover

"The Windhover" is a sonnet by Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–1889). It was written on May 30, 1877, but not published until 1918, when it was included as part of the collection Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins. Hopkins dedicated the poem "to Christ our Lord".

"Windhover" is another name for the common kestrel (Falco tinnunculus). The name refers to the bird's ability to hover in midair while hunting prey. In the poem, the narrator admires the bird as it hovers in the air, suggesting that it controls the wind as a man may control a horse. The bird then suddenly swoops downwards and "rebuffed the big wind". The bird can be viewed as a metaphor for Christ or of divine epiphany.

Hopkins called "The Windhover" "the best thing [he] ever wrote". It commonly appears in anthologies and has lent itself to many interpretations.

Trešnjica

Trešnjica is a river in western Serbia. The source of the river is situated on the Povlen mountain. After 23 km the Trešnjica joins the Drina near Ljubovija.

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