Definition of kestrel
: any of various small chiefly Old World falcons (genus Falco) that usually hover in the air while searching for prey: such asa : a common Eurasian falcon (F. tinnunculus)b : an American falcon (F. sparverius) having a reddish-brown back and tail and bluish-gray wings
Recent Examples of kestrel from the Web
In that time, the records have helped to establish that bluebirds, for example, are now doing well after a period of decline, but that the American kestrel and northern flicker seem to be scarcer.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'kestrel'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Did You Know?
There are several birds of prey that are called kestrels. Kestrels are noted for hovering while hunting their prey of large insects, birds, and small mammals. Kestrels are mainly Old World birds, but one species, the American kestrel, often called sparrow hawk in the US, is common throughout North and South America. It is about 12 in (30 cm) long, white or yellowish below, and reddish brown and slate-gray above, with colorful markings on the head. The common kestrel of the Old World is larger and less colorful.
Origin and Etymology of kestrel
Middle English castrel, from Middle French crecerelle, from crecelle rattle; from its cry
First Known Use: 15th centurySee Words from the same year
Learn More about kestrel
Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about kestrel
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up kestrel? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).