Mauritius Kestrel - A Recovered Kestrel Falcon

 

Mauritius Kestrel - A Recovered Kestrel Falcon

Mauritius Kestrel Facts

  • Wing Span - 49-56cm
  • Tail Length - 12-15cm
  • Overall Length - 25-29cm
  • Size Of Male In Relation To Female - 85%
  • Related Endangered Kestrels - Seychelles Kestrel (Falco Araea), Lesser Kestrel (FF Naumanni)

Description and Habitat

The Mauritius kestrel has managed to claw its way back into existence (more on that below). It has short pointy wings and is a thick-set kestrel falcon with a magnificent long tail which aids it to break before hitting the ground. Kestrel family is the only of the falcons (apart from the saker falcon) to hunt mammals as well as birds this means it can hunt by hopping along from branch to branch until it spies a sun bathing gecko.

Next, it can swiftly snatch it's prey while maintaining the element of surprise. Compared to other kestrels, the mauritius kestrel hovers little in the wild. This is partly due to the fact that the bird lives most of its life in dense forests or on scrub lands.

This kestrel has rufus plumage on its back and a black streaked head, underneath it is white with black spots. However, unlike the Eurasian Kestrel and American Kestrel this rare Kestrel has no physical differences between the male and female. Apart from size of course :-)

Clawed Back From Extinction

The wild mauritian kestrel is marooned in the tiny Mauritian island to the east of madagascar. In the 1970s it seemed this kestrel falcon was going to share the exact same fate of the dodo which was wiped out on the same mauritian island by the Portuguese in 1681.

In fact in the 1970s, it was considered one of the rarest birds in the world! and if it had not been for the only two breeding pairs the falco punctatus kestrel would have been wiped out completely.

This beautiful kestrel dwells deep in the forest and the sudden implementation of logging, pesticides, and egg scavenging monkeys along with increased hunting from farmers as they thought the kestrels were killing their chickens?! caused a lethal four-pronged extermination force for the mauritian kestrel.

Currently, the kestrel nest box and captive-breeding has helped preserve mauritian kestrel eggs and has recovered the bird to a more stable 500 wild pairs.

Prey Species Include

  • Small Birds
  • Tree climbing Geckoes
  • Dragonflies
  • Cicadas
  • Cockroaches
  • Crickets
  • Mice (been introduced to island)

Breeding

The kestrel breeding in this video is actually a Eurasian Kestrel. (If anybody has a mauritian kestrel breeding please own up!) The 1971 breeding season was blessed with luck. While one of the Mauritius' pairs of eggs were immediately devoured by monkeys and rats, the other kestrel falcon pair decided to nest on a steep monkey-proof cliff. This unusual decision proved to be effective and soon the world was provided with three more Falco Punctatus fledgelings.

Currently, this indian ocean kestrel breeds either on:

  • Cliff Faces
  • Tree Cavities
  • In a Conveniently Provided Kestrel Nest Box

The female will lay 2-5 eggs and will incubate them for 38 days until they fledge. Once hatched the chicks will rely on the mother for a whole year before setting out to hunt their own favorite meal - the unfortunate green tree climbing gecko.

To avoid confusion I should mention that, in America the Kestrel is often referred to as a Sparrow Hawk which is in fact a member of the Hawk Birdspecies.

I hope you have enjoyed my Mauritian Kestrel falcon page!