Falco falcons

Eurasian Kestrel Falco tinnunculusMalagasay Kestrel Falco newtoni

In the English language a distinction is made within the Falco genus between kestrels, hobbies, merlins and falcons.

Etymologically, falcon is of unknown origin, probably from Old High German falco, from Proto-Germanic falkô (reconstructed); hobby stems from Middle English hobi or hoby, which itself stems from Old French hobet, from Latin hopētus, diminutive of harpe ≈ perhaps Bearded Vulture Gypaetus barbatus or Black Kite Milvus migrans. Kestrel – from kesrel (the ‘t’ is excrescent), from Middle French quercerelle (onomatopoeic), which itself stems from Old French cercelle or crecele, and which evolved into present-day French crécerelle. Merlin – from Old English merlone, Old Frankish smiril = falcon. Ancient texts use various names for falcons s.l., generally for raptors in general or with no allusion to species, hence pinning a name down to one species, or even a clade is difficult.

As of version 9.1 of the IOC World Bird List the Falco genus comprises 38 extant species:

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