Common Kestrels successfully breed in Gozo and Malta this year

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Common Kestrels successfully breed in Gozo and Malta this yearCommon Kestrels have bred in Gozo and Malta this season, the two pairs and their chicks were monitored by a BirdLife Malta volunteer until all the young fledged.

BirdLife Malta said in a statement that in Gozo the pair bred on the western coast, and the other pair on the western side of Malta.

A BirdLife Malta volunteer birder found the nest in Gozo on the 19th of June, with chicks already well grown. A second visit by the volunteer to the nest two days later confirmed that it contained four young that were preparing to fledge soon.Common Kestrels successfully breed in Gozo and Malta this yearThe same volunteer first observed the pair in Malta on the 24th of May and confirmed breeding the following day when the nest was located.

The nest in Malta contained five young, about one-week old when discovered. The breeding site was regularly monitored by a BirdLife Malta volunteer birder for more than four weeks until all the young fledged successfully by the 25th of June.

BirdLife Malta said that the breeding pairs were both actively seen bringing prey to their young during the observation periods including birds (mainly Spanish Sparrows but also a Short-toed Lark) as well as rats, skinks, a gecko, and an Egyptian Grasshopper.

When the chicks were young, the adults fed them by tearing the prey into smaller pieces for them to swallow. As they grew, the adults then began leaving the prey on the floor of the nest so that the young birds could learn to feed on their own.

The Common Kestrel is a scarce breeding bird in Malta. BirdLife Malta noted that “the decrease in illegal hunting on the species in recent years is encouraging an increase in the frequency of breeding records.”

The eNGO concluded by saying that,”the Maltese Islands can support many more pairs of Common Kestrels if the birds are better protected and nest-sites not disturbed.”

Photographs Gozo: Adult female Kestrel with prey and four juvenile Kestrels at Gozo site and video all by Denis Cachia

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