American Kestrel Aka: Sparrow Hawk

Scientific name: Falco sparverius

Notice the tooth on the beak to signify it is a falcon
About the size of a Robin

Length: 8.7–12.2 in 22–31 cm. Wingspand: 20.1–24 in; 51–61 cm. Weight 2.8–5.8 oz; 80–165 g Relative Size: Mourning Dove-sized; slightly smaller than a Merlin

Easily distinguished by their small size and 'mustaches'

Both sexes have pairs of black vertical slashes on the sides of their pale faces, sometimes called a 'mustache' or a 'sideburn.'

Left is Male and the Right is Female

Males: slate-blue wings. Females: wings are a reddish brown.

Notice how the Male has colored tail feathers while the female has a more dull brown.

From below: The male Kestrel has blue wings with rust on the back while the female appears as a more dull brown. The males are more vibrant than the females.

Insects, invertebrates, small rodents, and birds

Prey: Mostly insects and other invertebrates as well as small rodents and birds. Common foods: grasshoppers, cicadas, beetles, and dragonflies; scorpions and spiders; butterflies and moths; voles, mice, shrews, bats, and small songbirds.

Larger raptors are predators to the American Kestrel

Predators: Other raptors including the red-tailed hawk, northern goshawk, cooper's hawk, peregrine falcon, barn owl, and great horned owl. Their large amount of predators have to do with their small size.

Behavior: Usually snatch their victims from the ground, though some catch quarry on the wing. They are gracefully buoyant in flight but small enough to get tossed around in the wind. When perched, kestrels often pump their tails as if they are trying to balance.

Bird Call: Killy-killy-killy or klee-klee (Shrill and in series of 3-6)

Nest: Cannot excavate on their own, rely on natural tree hollows, rock crevices, nooks in buildings, and woodpeckers for holes. The male searches for a possible nest and females make the final decision. They tend to like their nests to be near open ground and also readily nest in boxes.

Nest in cavities, cannot excavate on their own

Clutch: White to yellow or light reddish-brown. Mottled with violet-magenta, grey, or brown. 4-5 eggs per clutch. Incubation period is 26-32.

4-5 eggs per clutch

Habitat: American Kestrels occupy habitats ranging from deserts and grasslands to alpine meadows. You’re most likely to see them perching on telephone wires and along roadsides, in open country with short vegetation and few trees.

Mating and Migration: Year round: America, Cuba, Northern Mexico, South America but excluding: Brazil and the surrounding area. Summer: Southern and Central Canada. (Breeding) Winter: Southern Mexico. (Non-breeding)

American Kestrels do not migrate

American Kestrel is of least concern. 4 million in global estimation numbers, as of 2014.

  1. Smallest falcon of North America
  2. Most Colorful of all raptors
  3. Hide surplus kills in grass clumps, tree roots, bushes, fence posts, tree limbs, and cavities in order to save food for lean times or to hide it from thieves.
  4. Kestrels perching on light standards or foul poles, tracking moths and other insects in the powerful stadium light beams and catching these snacks on the wing.


Thank you for your attention.


Created with images by edbo23 - "falcon american kestrel kestrel" • NatureShutterbug - "American Kestrel" • esiul - "insect nature live" • coniferconifer - "Sweet flower" • Peter G Trimming - "Lunch Commenced" • winnu - "IMG_7386s-001" • minicooper93402 - "cooper's hawk on wire" • Moyan_Brenn - "Desert" • USFWS Mountain Prairie - "Missouri Coteau #2" • - "jn9700.JPG"

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