(Falco sparverius)

FUN FACT

American kestrels are the smallest raptor in North America. They are sometimes called "sparrow hawks" for their habit of hunting small birds.

American kestrels are the smallest and most abundant species of falcon in North America although they are declining through much of their range.  They are also one of the most colorful – males have blue-grey wings, rusty red feathers on their back and tail, and bold black stripes on their faces.  Females look similar, but are larger and have brown and black striped wings.  These small predators prefer open fields bordered with trees and other perches from which they can hunt.  When perched and looking for food, American kestrels often bob their heads and tails which is a way to identify them in the field.  They are also capable of hovering for short periods of time. 

Distribution

Throughout North America and some portions of South America.

Habitat

Fields and farmland with scattered trees and perches.

Diet

Small birds, small mammals, reptiles, and large insects.

Breeding

American kestrels nest in hollow trees or other cavities, sometimes using an old woodpecker nest hole. They lay 3-7 reddish brown speckled eggs which are incubated for 30 days. Young birds develop and remain in the nest for an additional 30 days before fledging. American kestrels will readily use artificial nest boxes provided by humans.

Status

Not Under Threat (Least Concern)

At the Aviary

See "Scooter" during special presentations and classes only. This bird is not currently on exhibit.