Falco vespertinus (Red-footed falcon, Western red-footed kestrel) 

Westelike rooipootvalk [Afrikaans]; Kakodi (generic term for sparrowhawks, goshawks, kestrels and falcons) [Kwangali]; Phakw (generic term for some of the smaller raptors) [Tswana]; Roodpootvalk, Avondvalk [Dutch]; Faucon kobez [French]; Rotfufalke [German]; Falco-de-ps-vermelhos-ocidental [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 vespertinus (Red-footed falcon, Western red-footed kestrel)  Falco vespertinus (Red-footed falcon, Western red-footed kestrel) 
Red-footed falcon male, Israel. [photo Rony Roshtov ] Red-footed falcon female, Israel. [photo Rony Roshtov ]
Falco vespertinus (Red-footed falcon, Western red-footed kestrel)  Falco vespertinus (Red-footed falcon, Western red-footed kestrel) 

Red-footed falcon male, the Netherlands. [photo Jan Bosch ]

Migrating group of Red-footed falcons, Cameroon. [photo Jaap van der Waarde ]

Distribution and habitat

Breeds from eastern Europe and northern Asia to north-western China, heading south in the non-breeding season to southern Angola and southern Africa. Within southern Africa it is locally uncommon to common in Botswana, northern Namibia, central Zimbabwe and the area in and around Gauteng, South Africa. It generally prefers open habitats with scattered trees, such as open grassy woodland, wetlands, forest fringes and croplands, although it often roosts in stands of alien trees (especially Eucylaptus) in the suburbs of small towns.

Distribution of Red-footed falcon 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

Palearctic breeding migrant, departing from its Eurasian breeding grounds from August-September before the entire population heads to southern Africa and Angola, arriving around October-November and staying until April and May.


It mainly eats arthropods, hunting from a low perch or from the air, diving to the ground and taking its prey, or hawking insects aerially. It may aggregate in large flocks at insect emergences, but otherwise it forages in loose flocks. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


Not threatened, although in its European grounds habitat loss and pesticide spraying have reduced its numbers.


  • 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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