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American Kestrel

From Opus

Photo by kegressyOntario, Canada, March 2005
Photo by kegressy
Ontario, Canada, March 2005
Falco sparverius


[edit] Identification

9-12" (23-30 cm). W. 21" (53 cm)
A jay-sized falcon, often seen hovering. Recognizable in all plumages by rusty tail and back.
Adult male has slate-blue wings but black-spotted rusty mantle and scapulars, which dominate the view from the back when perched.
Female has rusty wings and back, narrow bands on tail.
Both sexes have 2 black stripes on face.

[edit] Variation

In the Caribbean, both very dark and very pale forms occur.

[edit] Distribution

Female, subspecies peruvianus Photo by Stanley JonesHotel El Angolo Chosica, Chosica, Lima, Peru, August 2017
Female, subspecies peruvianus
Photo by Stanley Jones
Hotel El Angolo Chosica, Chosica, Lima, Peru, August 2017

North America: widespread and very common, found from Alaska and Canada east to Nova Scotia and south to Mexico.
Central America and South America: found in most appropriate habitats south to Patagonia.
Caribbean: found almost everywhere except where it is or recently has been persecuted.

Northern populations are migratory, moving as far south as Panama.

[edit] Taxonomy

[edit] Subspecies

JuvenilePhoto by HigheagleNorth California, June 2009
Photo by Higheagle
North California, June 2009

About 17 races are recognised[1]:

Photo by matphotocardsNew Jersey, February 2008
Photo by matphotocards
New Jersey, February 2008

[edit] Habitat

Open forest and woodland, semi-desert, plains, grassland and cultivated land with scattered trees. In some areas a common urban bird.

[edit] Behaviour

[edit] Diet

Their main diet consists of insects and small invertebrates. The nominate subspecies mostly hunts for small rodents.

[edit] Vocalisation

Shrill killy-killy-killy

[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from
  2. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved Oct 2017)
  3. BF Member observations

[edit] External Links


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