Yes, I’m gorgeous and I know it! (Photo courtesy of Nature's Home reader Craig Smith)

Often spotted hovering high above road verges, a kestrel in flight is a distinctive image that many of us are familiar with. Nature’s Home reader Craig Smith shares with us this gorgeous poser taken at Brockholes Nature Reserve in Preston, Lancashire – tired from scouring the fields for potential prey but still managing to look photogenic. And gloriously fluffy.

Typically, population numbers fluctuate and are dependent on vole numbers. Among other causes such as shooting, poisoning and disease, starvation appears to be a considerable cause of death amongst this species, and mortality rates are particularly high in juveniles during their first autumn and winter season. In fact, just 30-40% make it past their first year. This doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily fussy eaters though. Diets do differ between rural and urban birds, with rural kestrels also feeding on reptiles, bats, earthworms and other insects. City birds on the other hand, have developed a taste for sparrows. Habitat degradation and intensive farming are the main reasons for species decline, and as such kestrels are amber listed.

These medium-sized falcons are related to other UK birds of prey such as merlins, peregrines and hobbies.  While their characteristic hovering is mostly seen from the motorway, they thrive in heathland, moorland, farmland and wetland as well as town and city centres across much of the country. These environments mean they can manoeuvre with relative ease in search of small rodents, which was next on the menu for this striking bird.
 
Got any weird, wild and wonderful photos to send us? Make sure to email them to natureshome@rspb.org.uk

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