K is for Kestrel

When I first saw it flash past my window, I couldn’t believe my eyes. A bird of prey in the heart of Barcelona! It swooped up onto a building opposite mine where it hopped into an alcove and then out again. It waited for a while, surveying the surging traffic in the street below, and then flew away through rows of concrete and stone.

Bird in Barcelona

I put the sole image that I had captured on Twitter and after a little research I decided it was probably a kestrel. I was particularly struck by its bright yellow talons, like Malvolio’s stockings in Twelfth Night.

Bird in flight

Thinking no more of it, I never expected to spy the bird again. Yet this week, I’ve heard an annoying noise in my apartment building. It’s a continuous screech, screech, screech, a bit like a washing machine drum that’s broken. I thought that was what it was, until this morning.

The kestrel was back … and it was one of two.

The pair were in the exact same spot as before, and this time they were making that same sound that I thought was down to my neighbours’ antiquated white goods. Once again, they hopped back and forth inside that space, although one shot away before I could catch them together.

Another bird in Barcelona

Is it possible that these birds are nesting in that alcove in the middle of Barcelona?

There is plenty of food about. Although my street is heavily urbanised, we have a park at the top of the hill where I have seen bats and lizards before. There are also plenty of pigeons about. A holm oak in front of my house is full of wood warblers, little green birds that spend all day pecking at insects and …. er, warbling. No doubt there are plenty of rats lurking about here and there too.

Perhaps to a kestrel, that hole in the building is no different from a crack in a cliff where they might make their nest. Here is a shot of the whole thing and you can see the hole right up at the top, just under the neighbour’s roof garden. You can also see a dog sticking his muzzle out of a window on the second floor. The poor thing spends all day there peering sadly out at the street, no doubt wishing he was out hunting with the pack on the tundra.


Seeing wildlife like this in the midst of the city gives me hope that all is not lost, and that one day nature can come back, revivified and restored.

11 responses to “K is for Kestrel

    • I’m blown away by the whole thing! The birds seem so unconcerned by the noise and tumult of the city.
      I quite like that little dog actually and I think he does get out and about a bit.

  1. Don’t you just love the way fierce and untamed wildlife sometimes manages to simply ignore humans and just carry on as usual. I think nature only temporarily recedes and I guess like every major city Barcelona has an enormous population of . . . . cockroaches 😁 enjoy!!!

  2. Wow, well captured! And you can keep an eye on them too, maybe see some baby Kestrels at some point eh?!! I understand your excitement. They’re beautiful creatures and bring relief to the hard stone walls that surround in the cities.

    – esme upon the Cloud

  3. That is a rare treat and pretty awesome. I know some cities actually use Kestrels to keep the pigeon problem down, I am sure they will be doing the same with inland seagulls next.

    • There are some pretty brutal seagulls out there, though, aren’t there? I reckon my kestrels could see them off but a gull would be bigger than these little birds.Having said that, I don’t think the local pigeons have a hope in hell against them!

  4. Pingback: Kestrel chicks! | Alastair Savage