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Lampiesbaai’s Common Kestrel`s Journey – From Nest to First Flight

This post originally appeared on NeedOutdoors’ Facebook page and has been reposted here with permission from the original author.

In early September 2023, a pair of common kestrels began their journey to parenthood in Lampiesbaai in St Helena Bay.

Working on a 28-day incubation period and 9 days for eyes to open gives a total of 37 days, meaning the eggs were likely laid around the 2nd of September 2023 and hatched around the 29th of September 2023. On the 8th of October, we first saw the chicks, and their eyes were wide open, indicating rapid growth typical of kestrels.


These kestrels belong to the falcon family Falconidae, found across Europe, Asia, and Africa. They measure 32–39 cm from head to tail, with a wingspan of 65–82 cm. The males and females display gender differences, with females being larger and having more distinctive feathers. Their light chestnut brown feathers with blackish spots, blue-grey cap, and tail make them easily recognizable. The bright yellow cere, feet, and eye ring add a touch of vibrancy to their appearance.

The incubation period is an essential chapter in the kestrel story, ensuring warmth for successful hatching. The female kestrel turns the eggs to distribute heat evenly, while the male tirelessly provides food. As the chicks emerge, their eyes gradually open, indicating readiness for the adventures ahead.

The discovery of five chicks on the 4th of November showcased the resilience of the kestrel family. The real test came on the 6th of November when the first of the brood took its inaugural flight, followed by a second on the 7th. The 7th of November was marked by joy in witnessing these fledglings explore the skies but also by an unexpected challenge. The cage tipped over, and the community rallied together, demonstrating the power of collective care.

In the calendar, the 2nd of September to the 7th of November tells a tale of dedication, growth, and community spirit.

The common kestrel, with its small but mighty presence, teaches us important lessons about adaptability and perseverance. Observing how they work together reminds us of the significant lesson on the importance of looking after each other. The kestrels, with their collaborative spirit, show us the strength found in unity and collective care, proving that together, we can overcome obstacles and create a safer, more supportive environment for all.

It was truly incredible to witness the amazing growth of the common kestrels from the 3rd of November to the 7th of November. In just a span of a few days, we observed their transformation from fluffy hatchlings to fully fledged, no-fluff kestrels confidently taking flight out of the nest. Reflecting on the entire process, from the first sighting on the 8th of October when their eyes were wide open, to their rapid development in less than a month, highlights the awe-inspiring beauty of nature. The journey from newly hatched chicks to independent fliers within such a short timeframe is a testament to the resilience and adaptability of these fascinating birds, leaving us admiring at the incredible wonders of their growth and development.

This experience serves as a reminder of the vastness and magnificence of nature. It humbles us as humans, illustrating how small we are in the grand canvas of the natural world. In the bigger picture of nature’s wonders, our existence is just a tiny thread, emphasizing the need for appreciation, conservation, and harmony with the extraordinary environment we are privileged to share.

Additionally, it is crucial to approach rodent control with mindfulness, especially when considering the use of poison. While it may seem like a quick solution, it’s essential to recognize that the poison intended for rodents can unintentionally harm our feathered friends. Birds, including the common kestrels, may consume poisoned rodents, posing a serious threat to their health and the well-being of their chicks. It’s important to understand that there is no such thing as entirely safe poison. Poison is poison, and its effects can have far-reaching consequences in the delicate balance of our ecosystem. Being mindful of alternative, environmentally friendly methods for rodent control helps protect not only the kestrels but also the broader wildlife community. By choosing methods that don’t harm the natural order, we contribute to a healthier and more harmonious coexistence with nature.

As a nature lover and passionate photographer, documenting the journey of the common kestrels has been one of the most precious and rewarding experiences. It’s a unique privilege to witness the growth, challenges, and triumphs of these remarkable birds. I feel truly blessed to have been a part of the kestrels’ journey, capturing moments that highlight the beauty of nature and the interconnectedness of all living beings.

View the bird’s full progress in images below:

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