Among all the birds of prey present on Swedish territory, one of the smallest is the common Kestrel(Falco tinnunculus) and is certainly also one of the most characteristic and easy to spot.
Of small dimensions (up to 36 cm long, 78 cm of wingspan and a weight up to 220 grams which can become 300 for the females before the laying of the eggs) the kestrel differs from all the other raptors for its special technique of hunting: instead of circling in the sky like buzzards, kites, eagles and other hawks, for example, the kestrel manages to remain suspended in a single point, quickly flapping its wings and opening its fanned tail to exploit the wind and keep the stability. He moves a few meters at a time, thus scanning the area below for prey while suspended by its so called “Holy Spirit” flight, usually 10-15 m from the ground, to then move elsewhere. When it identifies the prey it dives quickly, captures it with its beak or its claws, and can stop to eat on the ground or fly on a nearby branch.
It feeds mainly on small rodents and small birds, such as common sparrows and starlings, but it also does not disdainmoths and butterflies, earthworms, and if the opportunity presents itself, even carcasses. For this bird of prey it is also quite easy to recognise the gender: the male in fact has a plumage tending to greyish, above all the head, while the female has a characteristic “red brick” color.
The Kestrel prefers to live in the countryside, but being one of the most widespread birds of prey in all of Europe, it is not difficult to find it even in the city. So, every now and then, try to check and maybe you will see one flying over your head in the city sky.