AMERICAN KESTREL

AMERICAN KESTREL (Falco sparverius) – (See images below)
DESCRIPTION: The American Kestrel male has a blue head and wings while the back and tail are reddish-brown, and the underside is white with black vertical stripes. The bird also has a black vertical stripe on each side of their face which look like sideburns.  Females have reddish-brown backs and wings with brown streaks. The tail has dark bars. This falcon is the smallest bird of prey in North America at around 30 cm (12 inches) in length. There are 17 subspecies.
VOICE: https://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Falco-sparverius
NAME: The English name ‘Kestrel’ comes from the French name of the bird, Crécerelle, which itself would refer to a small bell. As per Choate it would appear that the name thus refers to the bird’s call. The Latin genus name ‘Falco’ means ‘sickle’, in reference to the curved shape of this bird’s bill and talons. The Latin species name ‘sparverius’ refers to a sparrow, because of the kestrel small size. This bird was previously called ‘Sparrowhawk’ for that reason.
HABITAT: Open spaces such as fields, scrubland, deserts, also urban areas.
DIET: Small rodents, reptiles and birds (including around feeders), as well as insects and invertebrates.
NESTING: The nest is built in a tree cavity, but the kestrel will also accept nesting boxes. Around four or five white eggs are laid, which are incubated mostly by the female. The chicks are fed by the female.
DISTRIBUTION: The American kestrel breeding range covers most of Canada (and Alaska) up to the tree line, and the northern part of the contiguous USA except the West Coast. It is a year-round resident in the remainder of the USA and the mountainous regions of Mexico. Wintering populations are found around the Gulf of Mexico and Central America.
DISTRIBUTION MAP: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_kestrel#/media/File:Falco_sparverius_range_map.svg
ON PEI: The American kestrel breeds on Prince Edward Island and is fairly common.
CONSERVATION: Although widespread and common, and currently not considered at risk, this small falcon sustained a steady decline in its population over the last few decades. One concern is farming practices of ‘cleaning’ the fields of hedgerows, etc. Another is use of pesticides, which kill or poison the bird’s prey. And with clearing of dead trees in forests, it deprives the bird of nesting cavities.
NOTES: The American kestrel is part of the falcon family and as such can be successfully trained in falconry.
Hunting behavior:There are different types of hunt used by the American kestrel – one is that of ambushing its prey by staying perched on top of a vantage point and pouncing on the prey. Another method is hovering in the air and diving down vertically on the prey. They will also catch insects on the fly. Since birds can see untraviolet light, this allows the American kestrel to follow the urine path of meadow voles, a favorite target.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Merlin, Sharp-shinned Hawk
REFERENCES: https://www.borealbirds.org/bird/american-kestrel
https://www.mba-aom.ca/jsp/toc.jsp (Maritimes Breeding Bird Atlas)
https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/american-kestrel
https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/American_Kestrel/id
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_kestrel
http://www.nhptv.org/natureworks/americankestrel.htm (New Hampshire PBS)
https://nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/american-kestrel (Missouri Department of Conservation)
https://hawkwatch.org/learn/factsheets/item/637-american-kestrel

American kestrel - Apr. 9, 2017 - by Matt Beardsley
American kestrel – Apr. 9, 2017 – by Matt Beardsley
American Kestrel peeking out of nest box - Souris Line Road, PEI - Sept. 2, 2017 - © Kathy McCormack
American Kestrel peeking out of nest box – Souris Line Road, PEI – Sept. 2, 2017 – © Kathy McCormack
Juvenile American kestrel - Rustico, PEI - Apr. 23, 2016 - by Matt Beardsley
American kestrel juvenile – Rustico, PEI – Apr. 23, 2016 – by Matt Beardsley
American kestrel - Clinton area, PEI - Sep. 5, 2016 - by Chris Rice
American kestrel – Clinton area, PEI – Sep. 5, 2016 – by Chris Rice

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