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American kestrel (female)

Falco sparverius


These small falcons are easily identified by their facial markings which has two black bars on both sides. Both sexes have a rufous back and tail feathers, but the female has narrower and more extensive black barring to give her better camouflaging. Bobbing of the tail is a behavior marker (pic 2). Pic 3 shows her going into hover mode, a hunting technique used in fields.


Spotted at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. It is using a sign as a perch to peer over the fields for mice and small birds. American Kestrels are an adaptable species in terms of climate, temperatures, and elevation. These little falcons are generally located anywhere in the Western Hemisphere that is not covered in dense forest or in the Arctic Circle. American Kestrels are a species of open country, generally preferring grasslands and shrub lands over anything with tree cover. Ideal kestrel habitat is composed of ample open space with snags, fence posts, lone bushes or trees, or power wires acting as isolated perches. Kestrels prefer to be able to see their entire territory easily from any one perch, and do not typically appear in areas with dense foliage. Thus American Kestrels can be found in any of the following: deserts, plains, wooded savanna, marshes, farmland, tree lines and foothills of mountains, clear-cut areas, and even suburban and urban environments.


American Kestrels are a generally widespread and adaptable species, found in North and South America from Alaska all the way down to the southern tip of Argentina. In general, American Kestrels in colder climates tend to migrate to warmer regions for the winter months, while kestrels in sub-tropical and tropical regions are non-migratory. In areas where migrations happen, kestrels are spotted in the thousands during peak migration times at hawk migration watches stationed along major flyways.

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Brian38 9 months ago

Thank you so much Neil and WilliamsFamily for commenting. They are certainly a joy to watch. I'm always fascinated by the different hunting strategies and techniques birds use.

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 9 months ago

She is amazing!! Incredible spotting, Brian, and wonderful notes too.

WilliamsFamily 10 months ago

Beautiful, kestrel are my favorite raptors. :) great spotting

Spotted by

Washington, USA

Lat: 45.80, Long: -122.74

Spotted on Nov 10, 2018
Submitted on Nov 11, 2018

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