Critter Corner - American
DID YOU KNOW:
The American Kestrel is the same size as a robin and is the
smallest falcon that lives in our area.
Although small, its wings span 2 feet. Our grandparents
called kestrels 'sparrow hawks' because they hunt small birds.
In the summer kestrels eat a lot of insects like grasshoppers,
beetles and cicadas. In the winter, kestrels hunt
songbirds and mice. As with all birds of prey, they have
sharp talons and beaks. Kestrels sit on high perches or
hover high in the air, using their excellent eyesight to spot
Kestrels usually raise four or five babies two times a year.
stays with the young constantly for about 10 days after hatching
to keep them warm and to feed them tiny pieces of food brought
to the nest by the dad. When they leave the nest about a
month after hatching, the young follow the parents.
live in open areas with big trees, like pastures, vacant lots
and city parks. Mom kestrel lays eggs in tree cavities and
in openings in buildings. If kestrels do not find nest
cavities, they will not live in that area. We can help by
building kestrel nest boxes.
The feather patterns on the back of the kestrel's head look like
two eyes and a beak. When a predator tries to sneak up on
a kestrel from behind, it sees the fake face and thinks it has
most birds of prey, the male kestrel's feather color differs
from the female's. The female has brown wings and a
tail with black horizontal stripes. On the other hand,
the male's wings are grey and the tail is rusty red with a
black band at the end.
Kestrels often bob their tails when perching on a tree
Lakeside Nature Center is lucky
enough to have two American Kestrels. Check out all
both personal stories:
To learn more about
(Photo credits: Baby kestrels
from Alabama Wildlife Rescue; all others, Laurie Brown)