Kestrels are one of the world's most adaptable and widely distributed birds of prey, found throughout most of Eurasia and Africa. They occupy a wide variety of mainly open habitats, such as farmland and chalk downland, but have also learnt to live in built-up areas. In Britain they are regularly seen along motorways, hunting for small mammals in the undisturbed grass verges.
    Bird Atlas 2007-2011 recorded Kestrels in nearly 90% of 10km squares in Britain and Ireland in both winter and the breeding season. This represented a 6% reduction in breeding range since the 1968-72 Breeding Atlas, but concealed a much more significant reduction in population size of 44% since 1970. The causes of these reductions are unclear but are thought to include agricultural intensification, declines in their main prey species through the use of improved rodenticides and competition from other raptors.
    In Wiltshire WTA2 recorded them in 701 tetrads, with breeding confirmed or probable in 255 of them.. These figures represent modest declines since Birds of Wiltshire where they were recorded present in 748 tetrads with breeding in 263.
The following references are used throughout these species accounts, in the abbreviated form given in quotation marks:
1968-72 Breeding Atlas” – Sharrack, J.T.R. 1976:  The Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland. T. & A. Poyser
1981-84 Winter Atlas” – Lack, P.C. 1986:  The Atlas of Wintering Birds in Britain and Ireland. T. & A. Poyser
1988-91 Breeding Atlas” – Gibbons, D.W., Reid, J.B. & Chapman, R.A. 1993: The New Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland 1988-91. T. & A. Poyser
Birds of Wiltshire” – Ferguson-Lees, I.J. et al. 2007 : Birds of Wiltshire, published by the tetrad atlas group of the Wiltshire Ornithological Society after mapping fieldwork 1995-2000. Wiltshire Ornithological Society.
Bird Atlas 2007-2011” – Balmer, D.E., Gillings, S., Caffrey, B.J., Swann, R.L., Downie, I.S. and Fuller, R.J. 2013: Bird Atlas 2007-2011: the Breeding and Wintering Birds of Britain and Ireland
WTA2” – ("Wiltshire Tetrad Atlas 2 ") the present electronic publication, bringing together the Wiltshire data from “Birds of Wiltshire” and “Bird Atlas 2007-11”, together with data from further fieldwork carried out in 2011 and 2012.
"Hobby" - the annual bird report of the Wiltshire Ornithological Society.