kes·​trel | \ ˈke-strəl How to pronounce kestrel (audio) \

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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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 Notable birds this past week have been a great gray owl, an American kestrel and a lone common snipe. John Schandelmeier, Anchorage Daily News, 15 May 2021 Measurements of bones in a bird mummy suggest the animal was probably a Eurasian kestrel. Clara Moskowitz, Scientific American, 4 Dec. 2020 Johnston and his colleagues identify it as likely being a kestrel, a kind of falcon, the most commonly mummified raptor from ancient Egypt. Matt Simon, Wired, 20 Aug. 2020 Based on bone measurements, researchers concluded the bird was a Eurasian kestrel. Claire Bugos, Smithsonian Magazine, 22 Aug. 2020 Researchers found the cat was less than five months old, and separation of its vertebrae suggest it was strangled to death, while the bird was identified as a Eurasian kestrel, thanks to virtual bone measurement. Jack Guy, CNN, 21 Aug. 2020 Raptors like the kestrel were associated with solar deities, while cats were associated with Bastet, the goddess of fertility and domesticity. Matt Simon, Wired, 20 Aug. 2020 Buongiorno, too, you kestrel in the blue, ignorant of tech genius and real estate. W. S. Di Piero, The New Yorker, 23 Mar. 2020 The island is home to more than two hundred species of birds, including kestrels, great horned owls, and little blue herons. Elisabeth Eaves, The New Yorker, 18 Mar. 2020

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

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Kesteven, Parts of



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Cite this Entry

“Kestrel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Dec. 2021.

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