American Kestrel

American Kestrel

Our American Kestrel came to Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center in the spring of 2014 from Walden’s Puddle Rehab Center in Joelton, TN.  She was found with a broken wing that could not be repaired.

Open areas including deserts, meadows, grasslands, agricultural fields, urban and suburban areas.

Size: Length 8.7 – 9.2 in
Wingspan: 20.1 – 24 in
Weight: 2.8 – 5.8 oz

Sexually dimorphic in coloration. Adult Male: Grey crown; rufous nape with black spot on either side; dark mustaches around white cheeks; back is bright rufous with black barring on lower back; tail is patterned with highly variable amounts of black, white, or grey bands; wings are blue-grey with dark primaries; underparts are white washed with cinnamon.  Adult Female: Head similar to male, but more brown on crown; back, wings, and tail are reddish brown with dark barring; subterminal tailband much wider than other bands; underparts are buffy white with reddish streaks.

Eating Habits: Large insects, small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and birds.

Reproduction: Average 1 – 7 eggs.

Life Span: 3 – 5 years in the wild; Up to 14 years in captivity.

Interesting Facts:

  • During migration, males and females sometimes do not use the same habitat. Females are more often seen in the open areas, while males are forced into the woods.  Speculation believes this is because the females migrate first to establish winter territories, and the males are left with the less desired habitat.
  • The American Kestrel is the smallest, and most numerous of all North American falcons.
  • American Kestrels can be easily identified by the way they pump their tails and bob their heads, believed to be linked with agitation and hunting. Because of their size and coloration, American Kestrels are often mistaken for song birds.
  • American Kestrels are often seen along roadsides “Hover-Hunting”, which is used most often when there are no suitable perches available.

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