kes·trel | \ ˈke-strəl \

Definition of kestrel 

: any of various small chiefly Old World falcons (genus Falco) that usually hover in the air while searching for prey: such as

a : a common Eurasian falcon (F. tinnunculus)

b : an American falcon (F. sparverius) having a reddish-brown back and tail and bluish-gray wings

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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.

Examples of kestrel in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

American kestrels are the smallest falcon found in North America, only about the size of a robin, Joray said. Mike Danahey, Elgin Courier-News, "Tiny kestrel falcons growing their numbers by using manmade nests to hatch babies," 20 June 2018 American kestrel falcons, including two male fledglings born in a nest box at the Muirhead Springs Forest Preserve just outside Elgin, were banded Friday by wildlife experts from the Kane and Cook county forest preserve districts. Mike Danahey, Elgin Courier-News, "American kestrel falcon fledglings banded at Muirhead Springs Forest Preserve," 29 June 2018 Meet two of North America’s smallest birds of prey: the American kestrel and eastern screech owl. Sara Ervin Walser, Laurel Leader, "Nature programs at Patuxent Research in full swing [South Laurel/Montpelier]," 28 June 2018 Both expert hunters, the American kestrel uses its acrobatic prowess, while the eastern screech owl is a stealthy silenthunter. Sara Ervin Walser, Laurel Leader, "Spring into outdoor events at Patuxent Wildlife Visitor Center [South Laurel/Montpelier]," 17 May 2018 Kitty currently is licensed to educate, breed, educate and hunt with her wards, now numbering 19 including a golden eagle, a European kestrel, a gyrfalcon and a Eurasian eagle owl, one of the largest owls in existence. Vincent Crampton,, "Explore Florida's Suwannee County: Experience an ancient hunting art at International Falconry Academy," 6 May 2018 The conservancy provides habitats for more than 140 species of birds, including wild turkeys, American kestrels and Cooper’s hawks, and a number of geocaches are hidden throughout the property. Sarah Meehan, Howard County Times, "Howard County's best paths for spring hikes and bikes," 3 May 2018 The Medina Raptor Center offered close-up looks at a kestrel and a red-tail hawk held by center volunteers, and an African tortoise wandered around the retreat, followed closely by a member of the Northern Ohio Association of Herpetologists. Mary Jane Brewer,, "Medina County Parks' Earth Day Festival provides family fun," 23 Apr. 2018 Officials say rare bird species such as bobolinks, grasshopper sparrows, and American kestrels breed on the grassland. Frank Kummer,, "Historic Cowtown Rodeo's grasslands preserved in $2.6-million deal," 9 Apr. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of kestrel

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for kestrel

Middle English castrel, from Middle French crecerelle, from crecelle rattle; from its cry

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Last Updated

6 Sep 2018

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The first known use of kestrel was in the 15th century

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occurring twice a year or every two years

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