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American Kestrel, Falco sparverius

American kestrels perched on a fallen tree one with a grasshopper in its talons.

American Kestrels are a small falcon species. Males have striking blue-gray wings, a rusty-red back, and a white or light gray underbody with black spots. Females, on the other hand, have brown wings and back, and their underbody is buff-colored with black streaks. Both sexes have a bold facial pattern with a vertical black stripe on each side of the head

American Kestrels have a wide distribution across the Americas, ranging from Canada and the United States down to South America. They can be found in a variety of habitats, including open fields, grasslands, agricultural areas, deserts, coastal regions, and even urban areas with suitable perching and nesting sites.

They are adaptable birds that can thrive in various landscapes as long as there are suitable perching sites and open areas for hunting and nesting. In urban environments, they often perch on utility wires, buildings, or streetlights, using them as vantage points to spot prey.

American Kestrels are diurnal hunters, meaning they are active during the day. Their prey includes rodents, small birds, reptiles, amphibians, large insects, and occasionally small mammals. They use a combination of hovering, perching, and swift flight to spot and capture their prey. Kestrels have excellent eyesight, allowing them to detect small movements from a distance.

American Kestrels nest in tree cavities, abandoned woodpecker holes, or man-made structures such as nest boxes or crevices in buildings. They do not build their own nests but instead use existing cavities. The female selects the nesting site, choosing locations that provide shelter and protection from predators. Kestrels are known to reuse nest sites in subsequent years.

Females typically lay 3 to 7 eggs, with each egg laid one to two days apart. Incubation lasts around 28 to 31 days, with the female responsible for incubating the eggs while the male provides food. Once the chicks hatch, both parents are involved in raising and feeding them. The young kestrels grow quickly and are capable of flight within 28 to 30 days. During this period, the parents continue to provide food and teach hunting skills to their offspring.

The fledging period for American Kestrels occurs around 30 to 35 days after hatching. At this stage, the young birds leave the nest and begin to explore nearby perches and surroundings. They still rely on their parents for food and protection during this time.

American Kestrels are not known for long-distance migrations. However, some populations from northern regions may migrate southward during the winter months in search of more favorable foraging conditions.