The American Kestrel, Description, Habitat, Diet, Reproduction, Migration, Conservation, and Behavior - wikipidya/Various Useful Articles

The American Kestrel, Description, Habitat, Diet, Reproduction, Migration, Conservation, and Behavior

 The American Kestrel

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One of the few raptors in Washington with significantly sexually dimorphic plumage is the American Kestrel. With long wings and a long tail, it is our smallest and most delicate-looking falcon. Its head is white, blue, and brown. Males have vivid coloring, including reddish-brown backs, slate-blue wings with black streaks, and tan breasts with patches of black. Both sexes have prominent, black eyespots at the nape of their necks, and the male's head is blue and brown. Females have a brown back with black streaks and a white breast with brown streaks. The tail of the female contains many bands. Each face has two distinct, vertical stripes.

The American kestrel, the smallest and most prevalent falcon in North America, is a resilient tiny bird that has been able to thrive enough to include 17 subspecies and survive in many conditions and habitats throughout the Americas. The American kestrel is about the size of a mourning dove and has wingspan of 20 to 24 inches (51 to 61 centimeters).

Female American kestrels are 10 to 15% bigger than males, making them one of only three raptors in North America with radically distinct male and female appearances. With long wings and a tail, it is the tiniest and most delicate-looking American falcon. Its head is white, blue, and brown. Males have vivid colors, including slate-blue wings with black decorations, reddish-brown backs, and tan breasts with black markings. Females have a brown back with black streaks and a white breast with brown streaks. The tail of the female contains many bands. On their faces, both sexes have two distinct, vertical stripes.


The vast range of open habitats where American Kestrels can be found includes agricultural areas, grasslands, sagebrush, shrub-steppe, steppe, and dry woodland regions. They are often found where open spaces are coupled with perching sites, such as trees, utility lines, and fence posts. They take advantage of clear-cuts.

The preferred location for a nest is a cavity in a tree, however American kestrels are equally content to rent an abandoned magpie nest or woodpecker hole. In the Southwest, holes in enormous cactus work just well. Even nooks and crannies in structures and rock cracks will suffice for them. These birds love views, hence their nesting locations are often between 10 and 30 feet (3 and 9 meters) high. They'll also make advantage of fake nest boxes that conservationists have installed.


The American Kestrel mostly consumes big insects like grasshoppers, along with small animals, birds, and occasionally reptiles.

For this little but powerful bird, effectiveness in the hunt is paramount. Kestrels hunt for insects and other tiny food in open areas, perching on wires or poles or hovering while adjusting their long tails to keep still. They wait until they have a morsel in their sights before they swoop. Kestrels are also known to hunt in packs to improve their chances of success and defend their young.

The American kestrel eats a wide variety of things, including mice, voles, small birds, lizards, frogs, earthworms, crayfish, and more. It also consumes grasshoppers, beetles, dragonflies, moths, and caterpillars.


American Kestrels often nest 10 to 30 feet above the ground in cavities. They frequently use cliffs as nesting places in eastern Washington. Use is made of man-built nesting boxes, natural cavities, and old woodpecker holes. They will even build their nests in human-made constructions' holes. The female typically produces 4 to 5 eggs, although this might vary.

Most couples of American kestrels are monogamous, and some of them stay together for many years. If they have previously had success reproducing there, many species return to their original nesting grounds. Incubation starts just before the last egg is deposited in a brood, which typically has four to six eggs. The eggs are incubated by both the male and female and hatch after around 30 days.

Females often stay with the chicks for the first two weeks after hatching, during which time the male usually provides food.

Young kestrels rely on their parents for food for two to three weeks. The young occasionally return to the nest during this period and stay close to their siblings.


Kestrels are frequently spotted flying overhead or perched on wires in open spaces. An American Kestrel's distinctive tail-bob and slumped appearance make it easy to see from a distance.

Male kestrels are well known for their loud "killy-killy-killy" call, but they also put their wings where their beaks are by performing a "flutter-glide" air dance to attract females.


While kestrels at southern and mid-latitudes do not generally move, American Kestrels who live in northern climes frequently do. They are year-round residents of Washington, despite the fact that some eastern Washington birds migrate further north during the winter.


Although recent estimates indicate a decline in the Northeast's population, overall numbers seem to remain stable. Given that cavity-nesters are frequently constrained by the availability of natural cavities, the kestrels' willingness to use man-made nesting boxes is encouraging for the species. Breeding Bird Atlas data show that there has been a noticeable drop in Washington between 1966 and 2002, which is likely related to the disappearance of nesting cavities. Increased predation by Cooper's Hawks, a species that has recently had a comeback, may also be a contributing factor.

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