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"Almost every kestrel came to Sunfall with Itamen. The best of the best."
―Shadow Carja NPC

Kestrels are an elite class of soldier in the Carja and Shadow Carja military in Horizon Zero Dawn.


During the early reign of Sun-King Jiran, one season brought harsh sandstorms to Sandwhisper Valley. In response, Jiran ordered that the strongest among his guard would be trained there, rechristened as Kestrels. The training was brutal, and many recruits did not survive. The first and most infamous was Helis, who would eventually become Jiran's champion.

Current Status

By nature, Kestrels were unwaveringly devout to Jiran. As a result, the majority of them (if not all) fled to Sunfall following the Liberation of Meridian. The Shadow Carja army appears to be made almost exclusively of Kestrels, who receive a great deal of the splinter tribe's resources.

As no kestrels are seen in the Sun Carja, it is unclear whether the rank still exists, or if it has been replaced entirely by the Vanguard.


Unlike the heavy and fixed design of Carja soldiers, Kestrel armor is much lighter and customizable. The typical kestrel armor consists of a metal helmet with leather straps around the eyes, shoulder and upper plating, gauntlets, shin guards, shoes with single talon-like extensions, a maroon tunic with armor plating, and red feather accents. While some Kestrels wear chest armor, others have bare chests and torsos, painted with dark ink.

As is normal in Carja style, the armor is heavily inspired by Stormbirds.


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Kestrels are typically encountered wielding the Firestriker, and are thus tougher compared to standard Shadow Carja soldiers.


  • The name "kestrel" comes from a subcategory of falcons.