The American kestrel, Falco sparverius, is amongst the most beautiful and colorful falcons in North America. It has wonderful feather patterns and designs in blue, black, red, brown, and gray that look adorable to the eyes. Apart from their beautiful appearances, these birds are skilled at hunting and are swift fliers with astonishing acrobatic skills and abilities. They are known as birds of prey because of their fierceness and skills. They are good at hovering, unlike others. As they have a great headwind, American kestrels can vigorously agitate their wings and exercise their tail to help them stay rigid without any movements as they stay up in the air while searching for prey on the ground just like the aircraft stays in mid-air. They need lots of energy, agility, stamina, and strength to manage such static flights. When kestrels take a flight, all their feet, heads, long tails, wings, and bodies keep changing the direction and shapes accordingly to help this fierce bird reach its accomplishments.
This skilled bird belongs to the order Falconiformes family and is among the most famous and widespread North American birds. In open areas and regions, they are found very easily perching on the telephone poles and the roadside wires, hovering at a lower level over agricultural areas or fields to pounce and prey on mammals and insects. American kestrels generally nest in tree cavities and in areas where there are fewer large dead snags to render nest sites. They also depend on a nest box put up by various conservationists as they are injured and killed by cars and windows. Hence, it is recommended to place a nest box far away from fences, roads, and wires to avoid accidents and injuries. Although a kestrels' nest is located in tree cavities, they do not know how to make those cavities, and so they are dependant on other falcons and birds like woodpeckers to build and provide them good sites.
To know more about these fascinating animals, we have gathered a set of interesting facts about them for you to read. You can also read up our articles on the crowned eagle and tawny owl.
American kestrels are known as birds of prey and are a type of colorful bird that belongs to the family called Falconidae.
What class of animal does an American kestrel belong to?
The American Kestrel belongs to the class of Aves.
How many American kestrels are there in the world?
American kestrels are widespread, but there is no authentic set of numbers or estimated value of how many American kestrels exist there in the world.
Where does an American kestrel live?
American kestrels are the smallest falcon of North America. They are versatile, so they can live in various habitats, but mainly they are found in grasslands, fields, cities, and deserts. They are cavity nesters, and so they prefer cavities in trees and artificial nest boxes in nest sites where conservationists provide the nest boxes. During the breeding season, these are all occupied. They are found in South and North America.
What is an American kestrel's habitat?
This bird is favorable to any habitat and climate, such as from sparse trees to open areas with short vegetation. The unusual longleaf pine sandhill habitat is where the southeastern American kestrel in the United States form breeds. While breeding, they need trees and access to a few structures which can provide them with the needed nesting cavities. This bird is fond of any habitat that has been modified by human beings and these habitats include parkland and pastures and other areas that have human activity. It may be urban or suburban, including towns and cities. Generally, farm fields with short ground vegetation, cities, parks, and meadows are preferred for the American kestrel habitat.
Who do American kestrels live with?
American kestrels are typically solitary, but at times of migration or food hunt in abundance, they may travel in flocks that contain around 10 American kestrels. However, they prefer spending and do spend most of their time alone.
How long does an American kestrel live?
An American kestrels' average lifespan is less than five years, so they do not live long. However, the oldest kestrel was found out to be 11 years and seven months. At the same time, American kestrels in captivity can live up to 14-17 years.
How do they reproduce?
The American kestrel Falco sparverius mature by their first spring season. In the breeding season, a male arrives earlier at the breeding ground than a female, and then the female chooses their mate. This usually happens in migratory populations. Their pairs usually make close bonds, and these pairs use the same breeding grounds for several consecutive years. The young ones gain an advantage as they already know breeding grounds, neighbors, predators, and multiple other features. Males presents elaborate dive displays that help in advertising their territory, which, in turn, help them attract their mates. Mating may occur during any time of the year and is frequent. Their clutch size is four to five eggs, and they lay one egg until the clutch size is completed. In American kestrels, incubation almost takes 27-31 days. Hatchlings are born blind and helpless, so their parents have to gather food and look after them until the next 20 days, as then they grow to the size of an adult kestrel. The eggs and young kestrels have to be guarded and protected in the nest until kestrels return from their flight. An American kestrel falcon becomes mature and is ready to breed after a year during the next breeding season.
What is their conservation status?
The conservation status of American kestrels is listed as Least Concern in the International Union for Conservation of Nature or IUCN.
American Kestrel Fun Facts
What do American kestrels look like?
American kestrels are chestnut brown spotted with black; from the bottom, they are pale and warm, with a black band at the edge of their tail. A male kestrel has slate-blue wings, whereas females have reddish-brown wings. Both the males and females have black vertical lines or slashes on their pale-colored side faces, often referred to as sideburn and a mustache.
How cute are they?
American kestrels are adorable and the most colorful raptor. The kestrel is the smallest falcon in North America. A North American kestrel in flight is an eye-catching moment.
How do they communicate?
They mainly have three different ways of calls or communication, namely - 'klee' or 'killy,' 'chitter' and the 'whine.' The 'klee' or 'killy' American kestrel call is usually used by both males females to exchange a sense of anxiety or excitement. Adult kestrels often give a 'chitter' to attract and call their opposites or mating partners, which usually occurs during courtship and breeding. The 'whine' is generally made by offsprings or adults when hungry, and it is mainly associated with feeding, eating, or preying. The offsprings and the young ones start to give calls and make sounds as they become two weeks old. In a nutshell, American kestrels communicate by calls, by visual, or by making behavioral changes.
How big is an American kestrel?
American kestrels have a large head, long, narrow, and bent wings with edges swept backward. They are 12 in long, with their wingspan being 13-17 in. They are two times bigger than American robins.
How fly can an American kestrel fly?
American kestrels fly at the speed of 22-39 mph, and they can hover 10-20 m above the ground while searching for food or prey.
How much does an American kestrel weigh?
Adult American kestrels weigh around 0.3 lb or around 120 g. Moreover, an adult female weighs more than an adult male kestrel.
What are their male and female names of the species?
In terms of gender, there is no such difference in their names individually. They are both collectively referred to as American kestrels.
What would you call a baby American kestrel?
A baby or juvenile American kestrel is not given any name specifically; they can be called a chick or even eyas as they are similar species, so they belong to the same class as hawks and falcons.
What do they eat?
American kestrels consume different diets that depend on the seasons. In the summer season, they generally eat insects like butterflies, beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, and moths. In the winter season, kestrels usually prey on voles, snakes, mice, and other small birds. Their diets in the urban areas mainly south of America consists of 78% insects, 14% mammals, 6% reptiles and amphibians, and 3% birds. They usually hunt and prey during the daytime. They majorly use three types of hunting, namely: hovering, perching, and in-flight insect catching. They are known as skilled hunters because they have talon-tipped feet and sharp beaks.
Are they aggressive?
American kestrels are usually aggressive towards other birds, territory, over prey, and nesting sites. They usually convey their aggression by circling and diving at other birds and making loud calls.
Would they make a good pet?
American kestrels are aggressive birds and are not suitable as domestic pets, but they are used for commercial purposes such as falconry. Falconry is a process of capturing, training, and housing birds of prey mainly used in hunting. Thus, they are mainly used for commercial purposes.
Did you know...
American kestrels have a unique feature where an American kestrel male and a female American kestrel look different and are unidentical. This characteristic is only found in three of the North American birds and raptor species of North America. A female has many black stripes on its tail feathers, whereas a male has only one.
American kestrels do not nest until there is sufficient cavity in the tree holes or the nest boxes.
Growing kestrels eat two times more than adult kestrels.
Do kestrels kill other birds?
In urban areas, kestrels usually kill other birds more frequently as the availability of small insects and mammals is less, so they kill other birds in the urban areas.
Why does the American kestrel head bob?
American kestrels bob their heads to maintain stability while they prey. Their head bobs to indicate that they are preparing themselves for an attack.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds, including least tern, or golden pheasant.
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