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Falcons and allies

Peregrine falcon Falco peregrinus, perched on hotel roof, Manchester city centre

Image: Ben Hall

Small to medium-sized birds of prey with tapered wings and tails. Several groups, including the kestrels, which hover while searching for food, and the larger, peregrine-like falcons, which are fast-flying, agile and dramatic. 

Some are regular migrants, including the lesser kestrel and red-footed falcon, which breed in southern and eastern Europe but winter in Africa; others roam more randomly, such as the peregrine. 

The kestrel is largely resident in the UK but a migrant in northern Europe. All have sharp, arched claws, large eyes and short, hooked bills with a small notch on the cutting edge.

Hobby

About the size of a kestrel with long pointed wings, reminiscent of a giant swift. It has a dashing flight and will chase large insects and small birds like swallows and martins. Prey is often caught... More...

Hobby

Kestrel

A familiar sight with its pointed wings and long tail, hovering beside a roadside verge. Numbers of kestrels declined in the 1970s, probably as a result of changes in farming and so it is included on ... More...

Kestrel

Merlin

The UK's smallest bird of prey, this compact, dashing falcon has a relatively long, square-cut tail and rather broad-based pointed wings, shorter than those of other falcons. Its wingbeat tends to be ... More...

Merlin

Peregrine

The peregrine is a large and powerful falcon. It has long, broad, pointed wings and a relatively short tail. It is blue-grey above, with a blackish top of the head and an obvious black 'moustache' tha... More...

Peregrine