> Listen to the Xoriguer’s song:
The kestrel or faliguer, Falco tinnunculus of the Falconidae family, it is a diurnal bird of prey. It is light and small in size which allows it to fly with great agility. The male has a greyish head and a brownish top with characteristic black spots. The female is reddish and all spotted everywhere. It is distinguished from the little kestrel by its yellow legs.
It feeds on small reptiles, mammals, birds, lobsters and other invertebrates. Like many falcons, it is able to flutter its wings, fly in the air, move its wings quickly, and watch the ground for prey.
Interestingly, the etymology of the name comes from the Latin soricarĭu, derived from sorex, ‘rat’, because the sparrowhawk feeds on rats. In this case, the incorrect spelling “xoriguer” was closer to Latin than the correct spelling “xoriguer”. Linguistics stuff.
We also know them in our country, with the common name of sparrowhawk. In recent times the population has declined, and in the case of the little kestrelthe Catalan population is very small and vulnerable.
The cause of its declining population is caused by the bad practices of some operators of extensive agriculture, who eliminate the habitats where birds can live and feed. Its natural dams need barren or agroforestry areas, margins and curbs between farms. These dry stone spaces and margins are the refuge of a basic plant and animal biodiversity and essential for its survival. When it is removed or physically altered, with clearing and earthworks, or treated with herbicides and pesticides, all traces of life in the environment are lost and all of our natural heritage is condemned to death.
In order to avoid the decline of the common kestrel population, theBiodiversity and Natural Environment Department of the Department of Territory and Sustainability of the Generalitat de Catalunya carries out an annual campaign to introduce the environment to the hacking technique that simulates feeding in the nests of kestrel kites and with which La Torre del Codina actively collaborates.
Since 2017, we have bred and introduced a dozen common kestrel to the Torre del Codina. The litter system is called “hacking”, and is done in a nest where, they are fed every day from the beginning until they are alone. Usually, even when we are smart, we often see them regularly visiting our house to see if there is still food in the place where they were raised.
A curious anecdote is that when, at the end of May 2018, we “hacked” new lice, the adult kestrel we had fed the previous year appeared to eat the food we left behind. to the little ones. The company of the adults, however, was positive, because they were attentive to the development of the little ones throughout the period.
The time between picking them up from the Vallcalent Center until they start flying is very short. In 2018 we picked up four kestrels on May 25th and on June 7th and 8th they were all flying, except one that stayed in the nest for a couple more days. However, for 15 days they continue to stay in the same nest until they stop eating and do not return to the nest.
Kestrel hacking has beenan exciting experience for us, and has created an emotional bond of the Codina Tower, with these noble and beautiful birds of prey.
Jaume Ramon Solé.
Credits: Images owned by Jaume Ramon Solé – La Torre del Codina.