American Kestrel - Photo Copyright Ward Cameron 2003 - Click to view a larger image American Kestrel - Photo Copyright Ward Cameron 2003 - Click to view a larger image American Kestrel - Photo Copyright Ward Cameron 2003 - Click to view a larger image American Kestrel - Photo Copyright Ward Cameron 2003 - Click to view a larger image  
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American Kestrel
Falco sparverius

Hawks, Eagles and Falcons
Falcon Family (Falconidae)

Size: Length: 19-20 cm Wingspan: 50-60 cm

Description: This tiny aerial hunter is often seen perched on telephone wires as it awaits some unwitting small mammal or insect to let down their guard. They are a brightly coloured bird, with the males somewhat more showy. The top of the head, from the eyes upward, is blue with a mottled reddish-brown crown. The beak is blue and the cheeks and throat are white, interrupted by two prominent dark, vertical stripes. There is another dark spot on the nape of the neck. The back of the head and the back is reddish-brown, with dark edges to some of the feathers. Their forewing of the male is blue with a dark tip. The breast is white with a hint of rust, and the tail is reddish with a dark band and narrow white tip. Females are more subtle. The head is similar to the male, but the back and forewing are darker brown, mottled with black. The primaries are black. The breast is white mottled with reddish-brown. The tail is reddish, striped with black. The tip is white. In flight, they are quite lightly coloured from below. Their small size is their most distinctive feature, but the pointed wings and distinctive facial markings are unique. The slightly larger merlin lacks the facial stripes, and doesn't hover as does the kestrel.

They nest in cavities in trees, but may adopt an old magpie nest, or even use a nest box. The eggs are incubated for 29 days. Look for kestrels in open country adjacent to forest. They may be perched on power lines or poles, or may be seen hovering looking for prey. During summer, large insects like grasshoppers and dragonflies are the food of choice. Later, when these become scarce, they look to small mammals like mice and voles.

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All Material Ward Cameron 2005

 

 

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