Both sexes have pairs of black vertical slashes on the sides of their pale faces, sometimes called a 'mustache' or a 'sideburn.'
Males: slate-blue wings. Females: wings are a reddish 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.
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.
Predators: Other raptors including the red-tailed hawk, northern goshawk, Cooper's hawk, peregrine falcon, barn owl, and great horned owl.
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. (0:30 on video)
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. Male searches for one and females make the final decision. Near open ground, readily nest in boxes.
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.
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 Kestrel is of least concern. 4 million, global estimation numbers.
- Smallest falcon of North America
- Most Colorful of all raptors
- 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.
- 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.