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Eyes Like a Hawk

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Kestrel Hovering by Dan Edwards

Kestrels are one of the UK's most common birds of prey.  You can see kestrels while traveling down almost any motorway here.  If you get a chance to watch one hunting it's a pretty impressive sight.  Their ability to hover in one spot is quite amazing.  In fact if you see a bird hovering in a fixed position in the sky it's almost certain to be a Kestrel.  The head appears to be glued in space while the rest of the bird maintains its position with rapid wing beats and slight adjustments of the tail.

The secret to the Kestrels abundance in the UK is largely due to their exceptional eyesight.  Good eyesight is critical when you're hunting high up in the air for small mammals down on the ground.

If you've ever wondered where the expression "eyes like a hawk" comes from then these birds will show you.  It's thought that Kestrel eyesight could be up to 8 times more powerful than human eyesight.

With their huge black eyes Kestrels can spot the movements of a tiny mouse from 200 feet above the ground.  But not only can they see it, they can also judge exactly how far away it is, the size of it, the shape and position.  This make the chances of a successful dive and grab altogether much more certain.

Kestrel by Richard Harris

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