About The American Kestrel
The American Kestrel is the smallest member of the hawk family in North America. On the average, the American Kestrel is about 22-31 cm (9-12 in), with a wingspan of 51-61 cm (20-24 in) and a weight of 80-156 g. American Kestrel is readily identified by the two black stripes on its white face, its blue gray wings, and chestnut back and tail. The back is scattered with black spots while the tail is tipped with black as well. The American Kestrel has a short curved bill and short toes and legs.
The female of this species is larger than the male and has streaking on her chest. The male Kestrel usually has spotting instead of streaking. The immature Kestrel is more similar to the adult female. As American Kestrels are very common, you can often see them in fields or by the roadside.
The American Kestrel Nesting Preferences
The American Kestrel doesn’t make use of too many materials for its nest. It builds its nest from 12 to 80 feet above the ground, in high trees or on cliffs. It prefers to nest in cavities such as those found in trees, cliffs, nest boxes, and buildings.
Building a Birdhouse For The American Kestrel
The Baltimore Bird Club suggests the following dimensions for an American Kestrel birdhouse:
The American Kestrel Mating Habits
The American Kestrel is generally not a social bird and they mate monogamously. In general, pairing starts about 4 weeks before egg laying. The male (or sometimes the female) tries to catch the attention of the opposite sex by executing high dives. Once a pair has been formed, the practice of courtship feeding commences. That is, the male frequently presents food to the female.
Upon pairing, the Kestrel pair marks their territory. Presumably, the male protects the territory while the female warms the eggs. Male Kestrels are also known to sit on the eggs from time to time.
The American Kestrel Feeding Preferences
The American Kestrel is a predator. Due to its size, however, its diet is limited to smaller prey such as large insects and small mammals. Mice and small birds are common prey for the American Kestrel. In some areas, reptiles and amphibians are part of its diet. It hovers in the air before swooping down sharply and quickly to make the kill. However, more often, it simply watches for prey from a tall perch such as a telephone pole.
Interesting American Kestrel Facts
- Formerly known as the Sparrow Falcon
- The American Kestrel is perhaps the most colorful raptor in the world
- It is also the most common falcon in North America
- Nestlings have their own way of getting rid of their waste – they go with their back up against the nest walls and then raise their tails; then they do their business and squirt the waste on the walls. The excrement then sticks to the walls and keeps the nestlings clean. Of course, that doesn’t do anything about the smell inside the nest!