Kestrel – Pocaire Gaoithe
On average, in the wild, a Kestrel will live for 18 months but the oldest Kestrel on record was 16yrs 5months old. The kestrel is a species of falcon and are a small bird of prey with long, relatively narrow wings and tail. They have a short, hooked bill for eating meat. When hunting for its prey it usually hovers with a fanned tail managing to keep its head stationary despite its rapid wing beats.
Kestrels nest in trees, buildings or in cracks in cliffs and have been known to use old crows nests.
Kestrels can be found in a wide variety of open habitats including coasts, moor land, farmland, wetlands, roadside verges and town parks. According to Niall Mac Coitir in his book “Ireland’s Birds: Myths, Legends and Folklore” in times long gone by, kestrels were the lowliest of falcons, used only by naves or servants. Nevertheless, they had a use, as they were traditionally kept near dovecotes to scare sparrow hawks away, because they would not bother the doves themselves. It was even said that pigeons would seek out a kestrel for protection if a sparrow hawk was about.