Small bird of prey idenfication

Hello. I have just seen a small bird of prey hovering (with wings still beating quite powerfully) VERY high above the fields next to my house. I am familiar with Kestrels having watched them for the past 3 years locally and something about this bird was different. Having tried to identify it, the shape of it was much like a Merlin, but the information I found said nothing of them hovering in such a way. It then flew lower before diving almost vertically and quite spectacularly down to the ground and out of sight . I am hoping someone may have an idea of what it could be?

  • Hi. I can't help other than to say from what has been written so far is that it was probably a kestrel.
  • I would agree with Robbo, earthhare. Behaviour sounds like a Kestrel and not a Merlin.

    In passing, a number of "non-hovering" raptors can "hover" briefly in a stiff breeze.

    I've seen Common Buzzards, for example, doing very passable Short-toed Eagle impersonations when the wind is right.
  • Thanks to you both. I appreciate your input. I will log that one as experience and welcome our Kestrels back who have been a little quiet over the past couple of months. :)
  • It's always worth looking twice, earthhare, and always worth doubting. October's "Kestrel", here, was a Merlin. Last year's "Kestrel", in Tuscany, was a Black-winged Kite.

    As my partner always says: Not all "buzzards" are buzzards.

    All the best -


  • This behaviour sounds more like a Kestrel than anything else. I have seen a Merlin hover on very rare occasions but that has been when it was facing very strong headwinds on open moors. There is some similarity in shape as they are both in the Falcon family but it would be rare to see a Merlin near houses.


    Birding is for everyone no matter how good or bad we are at it,enjoy it while you can