This medium-sized falcon is about 35 centimetres long when perched and has a 75 centimetre wingspan and a long tail. The male has a grey head with a dark moustache stripe and grey rump and tail, with a dark, wide band at the end. The back and upper wings are reddish brown with black markings. The female is larger than the male, with a brownish head and brown barred tail.
The kestrel is found widely across Europe in a variety of habitats with open landscapes, including towns.
The kestrel hovers, often with a hanging tail spread like a fan, preying mainly on voles and insects. It nests in trees, often in the abandoned nests of crows or magpies, or in hollow trees and rocks or buildings.