kestrel

A kestrel is a small falcon that hovers high in the air before swooping down on its prey. Kestrels typically hunt for insects, rodents, and lizards.

In North America, a kestrel is distinguished from other falcons by its small size — it's about the same size as a blue jay or mourning dove. These colorful birds have rusty-brown, black, white, and blue plumage, and they're commonly seen hovering above an open field, wings beating, before diving to snatch a grasshopper or mouse. Experts aren't certain of the origin of kestrel, although some suspect a Latin source, crepitacillium, "small rattle," after their distinctive call.

Definitions of kestrel
  1. noun
    small North American falcon
    synonyms: American kestrel, Falco sparverius, sparrow hawk
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    type of:
    falcon
    diurnal birds of prey having long pointed powerful wings adapted for swift flight
  2. noun
    small Old World falcon that hovers in the air against a wind
    synonyms: Falco tinnunculus
    see moresee less
    type of:
    falcon
    diurnal birds of prey having long pointed powerful wings adapted for swift flight
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