Common Kestrel

Nestled in the heart of South Cyprus, where the golden rays of the Mediterranean sun kiss the sprawling olive groves, an avian marvel graces the skies—the Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus). As denizens of an olive farm, we find ourselves in the company of these remarkable birds of prey, witnessing their grace and prowess in maintaining a delicate balance within our local ecosystem.

Identification and Physical Characteristics

Common Kestrels are small to medium-sized raptors, easily identified by their distinctive plumage and hovering flight. Males and females exhibit sexual dimorphism, with males showcasing slate-blue wings and a rufous-brown back, while females boast a more mottled appearance. Their long wings and tail aid in agile flight, and a characteristic black ‘moustache’ on their face adds to their charm.

Habitat and Nesting

South Cyprus, with its varied landscapes, provides an ideal habitat for Common Kestrels. Olive farms, with their vast groves and surrounding open areas, offer ample hunting grounds. These birds often build their nests in cavities, cliffs, or even repurposed nests of other birds. The farm structures and old olive trees may become their chosen homes, providing a safe haven for breeding.

Read here where the Common Kestrel nested at Mavronero Farm

Dietary Preferences

Common Kestrels play a vital role in pest control, making them allies to olive farmers. Their diet primarily consists of small mammals like rodents and insects. Hovering with remarkable precision, they spot their prey before diving swiftly to grasp it with their sharp talons. This natural pest control helps in safeguarding the olive crop, promoting a healthier and more sustainable farming environment.

Seasonal Movements

While some Common Kestrels in South Cyprus are resident throughout the year, others may engage in seasonal migrations. These migrations are typically influenced by the availability of food resources, and the mild Mediterranean climate makes South Cyprus an attractive destination for overwintering kestrels.

Conservation Status

Despite their adaptability, Common Kestrels face threats such as habitat loss, pesticide exposure, and even illegal hunting. As stewards of the land, it is crucial for us to appreciate and actively contribute to the conservation efforts that protect these birds and their habitats.

Symbolism and Folklore

In various cultures, the kestrel has symbolized different qualities, including agility, speed, and foresight. In South Cyprus, where agriculture is deeply intertwined with the culture and history, the Common Kestrel could be seen as a guardian of the olive groves, embodying the delicate harmony between nature and human endeavors.


The Common Kestrel, with its aerial acrobatics and role in natural pest control, has become an integral part of the South Cypriot olive farm landscape. As we cultivate the land and tend to the olive trees, let us also celebrate the presence of these majestic birds that contribute to the ecological tapestry of our farms. By fostering an environment that supports their well-being, we can ensure that the skies over our olive groves continue to be graced by the enchanting flight of the Common Kestrel.