NOT ONLY ARE THEY THE SMALLEST THEY ARE ALSO THE MOST COMMON, AND SOME SAY, THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BIRD OF PREY IN NORTH AMERICA!
A pretty little bird of prey that is often seen perched on telephone wires, and along roadsides.
THE AMERICAN KESTREL
The American Kestrel (Falco sparverius), also known as the Sparrowhawk, is the smallest of its kind in North America, not having the size of a large thrush. Sexually dimorphic males are 8-10 inches long (20-25 cm) and weigh 3.9 oz (111 grams). Females measure 9 to 11 inches (23 to 28 cm) and weigh 4.2 oz (120 grams). The differences between men and women can be hard to find on the outside. So look for blue-gray feathers in the male and brown in the female. The male’s underwings are white and covered with black. Its back is rufous and the trunk is white on the lower half. The belly and sides are white with black spots, the tail is rufous, except for the outer rectrix set, which is white with a black subterminal band.
In comparison to the males, the underside of the female’s wing is white with rufous streaking. Her tail is rufous in color with lots of narrow dark brown and or black bars.
Juvenile birds exhibit similar collar patterns to their male or female counterparts.
This bird ranges all the way from North America all the way down to South America.
American kestrels prefer a wide variety of habitats including parks, open fields, suburban areas, alpine areas, grasslands, marshes, forest edges, plains, deserts, and highway corridors.
These birds feed on grasshoppers, lizards, mice, dragonflies, and voles. However, they will also dine on other smaller birds.
Nesting for this species begins in spring to late summer in North America when a nest is built in cavities like tree holes, rocks, and crevices in cliffs. However, they will also use artificial boxes and spaces in buildings. Three to seven white or pinkish eggs flecked with fine spots or brown shades are laid within which the female incubates alone. They hatch after 29 to 30 days and become fledged after 30 to 31 days.
As this bird occurs over a wide range and is not generally rare, the IUCN classifies it as a Species of Least Concern. Local populations may fluctuate according to resource availability, and birds may become locally extinct if habitat deteriorates.
Local populations may fluctuate according to resource availability, and birds may become locally extinct if habitat deteriorates.