Resident Raptor - American Kestrel
Puck When still young enough to be begging for food, landed on a boy's head at a baseball game during the summer of 2005! Realizing this was not normal behavior, the boy and his dad took the bird home and called the Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek, CA - their local nature center/rehabilitation facility. Museum staff determined that the bird was either a human imprint or at least too habituated to people to release, treated him for a puncture wound on his wing, and discovered he had a retinal tear in his right eye causing impaired vision. He was transferred to CRC in September 2005 to join our educational program.
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)
The most common and widespread falcon in North America, as well as
the smallest and most delicate. Having the typical falcon shape -- a short
neck, relatively small head, long and slender pointed wings, and a long tail
- gives this bird a streamlined body designed for fast flight. Females are
slightly larger than males, but unlike most birds of prey, the sexes have
different plumages. Both have a rufous-red back and tail, double black
stripes on white cheeks, and a gray head with a rufous crown patch. Wing
color and pattern is the most noticeable difference: females have rufous
barred upper wings, while males have wings of blue-gray with small black
spots, with a row of white circles on a darker trailing wing edge. Flight of
this small falcon is light and buoyant, with rapid, shallow wingbeats and
short glides. Often seen in flight with the wingtips swept back, or hovering
motionless in midair over prey. Head bobbing, and flicking the tail up and
down are two commonly observed behaviors when this bird is perched.
||8 - 10"
||9 - 11"
||20 - 22"
||21 - 24"
||3.4 - 4.5 oz.
||3.6 - 5.3 oz.
Status - State and federally protected
Habitat - Most often seen in open fields or pasture lands with
scattered trees, woodland edges, and along highways - where scattered high
perches near open land provide good hunting. This very versatile species can
take advantage of a variety of habitats, from mountain meadows to desert
plains and canyons. Within the breeding range, will be found wherever there
are enough perches, nest sites, and open vegetation to support a food supply
for their prey species.
Diet - Consists primarily of insects and rodents, other small
mammals, and reptiles; small birds are also taken, mostly in winter when
other prey are not as plentiful. Often hovers over prey before swooping
down; hunts mostly in the morning and late afternoon, perching quietly at
other times of the day. In summertime, grasshoppers and crickets will form
much of the diet in many areas.
Call - With a voice higher in pitch than that of other raptors,
kestrels will frequently give a shrill call of killykillykilly, or a
screaming cry of kliklikliklikli.
Nesting - Likes old tree nesting holes of other bird species, tree
hollows, holes in cliffs, in wall niches or under eaves in urban
environments. Can be attracted to manmade nest boxes.
Most Common Problems - Collisions with vehicles or windows. Because
these birds are willing to live close to humans, young often fledge into
dangerous areas, such as manufacturing plants or lumber yards.