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American Kestrel: The Sparrow Hawk

Kestrels are the smaller members of the falcon genus which are known for their orthodox hunting attitude. They are normally recognized due to their brown feathers and scientifically they belong to the order “Falconiformes” and the class “Aves”. Different species of kestrels are found in various parts of the world but the only kestrel found in North America is known as “American Kestrel“. American Kestrel is also named as the Sparrow Hawk and it ranges from Alaska to North Canada and then the eastern coastal zones of the US , Central America till Mexico. Their natural habitats include vast grasslands , agricultural farms , meadows , towns , parks and large plains.

The Pair of American Kestrel. Photo : Greg Peterson

American kestrel is an amazing bird due to their wonderful colors and amazing hovering flight. Like other kestrels the American kestrels also don’t make their own nests but they tend to live in other birdhouses. The male American kestrel has blue and grey wings with black and white spots. It has brownish red belly with black and white stains. The average length of the male is 7-8 inches with the 50-60cm wingspan. The female American kestrel is slightly larger with dark brown back and wings. The undersides of the wings are creamy. The important distinction between the male and female American kestrel is the tail as the males have brownish red tail with white tip. The females have also dark brown tail but they have also dark black bars. The American kestrel normally preys lizards, small mammals, small birds, bats and rodents. The vocalization of American kestrel includes “ki-ki-ki” or “klee-klee”. Before diving on its prey the American kestrel flutters its wings in a rapid speed. In the breeding season the female American kestrel lays 4-7 eggs and the pair incubates the eggs for one month.

Although American kestrel, the sparrow hawk falls under the least concern category as they are found in abundance in America. Yet their population is under the threat of decline due to the deforestation of Longleaf Pines from the agricultural lands and grassy zones. 

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