The Nankeen Kestrel is a relatively small raptor, with a red-brown slender body. The wings are red-brown, underparts are white or yellow-brown with dark streaks. The head is light grey with a dark brown stripe below the eye. Females are slightly larger than males and have a pale brown head and a finely barred pale brown upper tail, while males have a greyish head and tail. Young birds are similar to females more heavily streaked and mottled.
Kestrels are regularly seen hovering effortlessly, sometimes for long periods of time, maintaining an almost motionless pose above the dunes or cliffs of the Bluff. They eat smaller prey while in flight but larger prey is taken back to the perch. They are successful birds of prey due to their tolerance of a wide variety of foods and habitats and their ability to nest in a range of sites. They hunt mainly small mammals such as mice, small birds, lizards and insects.