Falco dickinsoni (Dickinson's kestrel) 

Dickinsonse grysvalk [Afrikaans]; Tuyu (also applied to Black-shouldered kite) [Kwangali]; Dickinson-torenvalk [Dutch]; Faucon de Dickinson [French]; SchwarzrŁckenfalke [German]; Falc„o de Dickinson [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Falconiformes > Family: Falconidae

Falco dickinsoni (Dickinson's kestrel)   

Dickinson's Kestrel, Botswana. [photo Bob Lewis ©]


Distribution and habitat

Occurs from Angola, southern DRC, Tanzania and Zambia south to southern Africa. Within southern Africa it is uncommon in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, northern Botswana and the Caprivi Strip (Namibia), marginally extending to the Limpopo Province and northern Namibia. It generally prefers low-lying tropical savanna, especially with flood plains containing Hyphaene and Borassus palms, as well as open Mopane (Colosphermum mopane) and miombo (Brachystegia) woodland.

Distribution of Dickinson's kestrel in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Movements and migrations



It mainly eats insects, frogs, birds, snakes, small mammals and crabs, usually hunting from a high perch (such as a dead tree) from which it swoops down to prey in an open area. It also hawks prey aerially and is quite opportunistic, catching animals fleeing from fires and following ploughs, so that it can surprise exposed insects and rodents. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Invertebrates
    • crabs
    • insects, especially grasshoppers and crickets (Orthoptera)
  • Vertebrates
    • birds
    • frogs
    • snakes
    • small mammals (including bats)


  • Monogamous, territorial solitary nester, although in Zambia nests can be spaced as close as 275 metres apart.
  • The nest is usually a cavity or hollow near the top of a palm, baobab or other tree at least seven metres above ground. It may also use an old or even an occupied Hamerkop nest, or rarely a cavity in a man-made structure.
  • Egg-laying season is probably from late September to late October, although this range is based on few records.
  • It lays 1-5 eggs, which are mainly incubated by the female for about 30-32 days, while the male delivers food to her.
  • The chicks are mainly fed by the male every 2-5 hours or so, while the female tends and defends the nest, although she occasionally joins the male hunting. The young leave the nest at about 30 days old, and are probably able to fly about five days later.


Not threatened.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 



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