American Kestrel

American Kestrel Falco sparverius

Type of Animal:

Urban/suburban areas, fields, agricultural areas, deserts, tropical lowlands, grasslands, meadows, mountains, parks, longleaf pine sandhills, parkland, pastures, woodland edges, forests/forest clearings, farmland, plains, chaparral, savanna

N America, C America, Caribbean, S America (Guyana-Brazil border, N Venezuela, N & W Colombia, W Ecuador, W Peru, C Chile, most of Argentina, S & E Brazil, Uruguay, Bolivia, & Paraguay)

Smallest falcon in Americas, females larger than males, moderately long fairly narrow wings, males have blue-grey wings w/ black spots & white undersides w/ black barring, rufous back, belly/flanks white w/ black spotting, rufous tail w/ white/rufous tip & black subterminal band, females have rufous back/wings w/ dark brown barring & creamy to buff heavily streaked underside, rufous tail w/ narrow dark black bars

Insects, rodents, lizards, snakes, birds up to size of flickers, spiders, scorpions, frogs, bats, shrews, crayfish, worms, baby tortoises

Status in Wild:

Not applicable

Solitary or monogamous pairs

Additional Info:

Male: Tiercel
Female: Falcon
Young: Eyas
Group: Pair
Male: 2.8-5 oz
Female: 3-5.8 oz

1 month 

Life Span:
5 years in wild, 11-14 years in captivity

Male: 8.7 in
Female: 12.2 in

Body Length:
Male: 8.7 in
Female: 12.2 in

Tail Length:
Male: 4.3 in
Female: 5.9 in

Main predators of adults are foxes, coyotes, wolves, bobcats, raptors, ravens, crows, raccoons, cats, skunks, snakes, dogs, & bears. Fire ants prey on young.
Like other falcons, they don’t build own nests.
During courtship, male brings female gifts.
They’ll hunt in sit-and-wait mode and/or on the wing.
Cache uneaten kills in hiding spots to keep thieves away & save it for leaner times.
Sometimes called American Sparrowhawk, Grasshopper Hawk, Windhover, & Killy Hawk (after shrill killy-killy-killy call).
Most common N American falcon.
Females lay 2-7 eggs per clutch & young stay w/ parents for a few months. Siblicide is not uncommon & 60% of youngsters don’t make it to maturity (around 8 months) due to this as well as car collisions, direct killing, & predation.
Besides “killy” call, also have “chitter” call for activities like courtship feeding/mating/feeding of young & “whine” call associated w/ feeding.

Fun Fact(s):
They have excellent vision, being able to see UV light & being able to spot prey more than 328 ft away.
Nests known to be quite smelly.
Very common in falconry, especially for beginners.

2 thoughts on “American Kestrel


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