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American Kestrel

Updated on December 30, 2010

American Kestrels, the Smallest Falcon in North America!

Size isn't everything! The American Kestrel may be the smallest falcon in North America, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in color and beauty! This falcon has a huge range, spanning all the way down to the coast of Chile near Antartica to the treeline in Alaska. You can find this bird hunting and feeding on rats, bugs and mice in open fields.

What Does the American Kestrel Look Like?

The appearance of this beautiful bird

The American Kestrel has some unique plumage. What looks like an Egyptian hieroglyphics can be found right in the United States! Complimenting brown colors on the belly and wings are contrasted with intense blues and black barring with spots on the chest. The females have streaking on the chest.

Typically, females are larger than males. They can vary in size from 9-12 inches and weighing from 2.8 ounces to 5.8 ounces. They have a 20-24 inch wingspan which makes the bird look much larger in flight.

This stop sign that the American Kestrel has landed on gives you a great idea of just how small these birds are.

Kestrel on a perch

Kestrel on a perch
Kestrel on a perch

American Kestrels Love Bugs!

These small hawks eat lots of bugs, making them an efficient "bug zapper" for the insect population!

A Falcon That Likes that Isn't So Tidy!

The American Kestrel is kind of a messy bird...

American Kestrels have odd behavior when making their nests...they take old abandoned nests in tree cavities! They're either good recyclers or they're lazy...who knows! When nesting, these falcons often spray the inside of the cavity with excrement instead of leaving the nest or spraying outside.

What a mess!

American Kestrel Postage Stamps

American Kestrel Videos

This video here features how researchers band American Kestrels to collect valuable data on these birds.

The American Kestrel: Falcon Of Many Names - A recommended book on American Kestrels

The American Kestrel: Falcon Of Many Names
The American Kestrel: Falcon Of Many Names

This book features an in depth look into this species, its behavior, mating habits, and is illustrated with some wonderful photos of this bird.


Breeding Habits of the American Kestrel

Breeding and eating habits

American Kestrels usually lay plenty of eggs, between 3 and 7. After approximately a month of incubation, the chicks will hatch. It will take these baby falcons a whole month to learn to fly.

Where can you see these beautiful birds?

American Kestrels can be found in open fields across North and South America. They prefer to eat crickets, grasshoppers, mice and other field critters Often times they can be found in cranberry bogs, open grasslands and farmlands. Bring your binoculars! Watch to see them hovering, or if they are sitting, watch for a bobbing tail movement. American Kestrels seem to be high-strung, so they are almost always in the air.


The American Kestrel is actually in decline! While some sites claim that they are stable, there has definitely been a decrease in numbers of the population. Take a moment to answer our quick poll question to report any kestrel sightings, even if you have not seen one recently (or ever).

An American Kestrel sits on top of a fresh kill, which you can't really see in the photo, but it's under his feet (a mouse).

Have you ever seen an American Kestrel? If so, when?

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And he's off! He sees some prey in the distance and decides to go for it...

If you have seen an American Kestrel, where are you located?

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A Kestrel cleans itself atop a perch.

If you have seen an American Kestrel, how many times have you seen one?

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Spot Some Kestrels in your Neighborhood! - Recommended Bird Gear

Start seeing Kestrels and other wildlife in your neighborhood!

The Nikon Action 8x40 Binocular comes equipped with:

  • Aspherical eyepiece lenses with multi-coated prisms
  • Quick central focus system
  • 420-foot field of view at 1,000 yards
  • Magnification: 8x
  • Objective lens: 40mm

Nikon 7216 Action 8x40 Binocular
Nikon 7216 Action 8x40 Binocular

This pair of Nikon binoculars has an amazing solid 5-star out of 5 rating on Amazon out of 51 reviews as of publication. Some customer comments:

"Absolutely the best binoculars at this price range."

"I really was overjoyed with these binoculars. Crisp, very bright viewing. Clarity very good, and the comfort and ease of use is great."

"The Nikon Action 8x40 binoculars are terrifically sharp and bright and are a tremendous value compared to the 'bargain' binoculars offered by other manufacturers in this price range. This binocular is a sturdy, durable-feeling handful that comes with an excellent strap and solid covers for both pairs of lenses. Very sharp, accurate color rendition, easy and rapid focus."

All in all, customers are very satisfied with this product for its ease of use, flexibility, durability and affordable price. Start birding!


American Kestrel

American Kestrel
American Kestrel

Have you had an experience with the American Kestrel or just want to drop in? Leave your thoughts here!

Thanks For Flying By! - Leave a note in my Guestbook!

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    • profile image

      stephanie-martinlong 5 years ago

      Found two baby fledglings yesterday. Took them to a rehab rescuer. One died during the night, but the other one will likely survive. Never saw one before in my life.

    • Shorebirdie profile image

      Shorebirdie 5 years ago from San Diego, CA

      I see them often. They like to hunt small birds and shorebird chicks, too.

    • SaintFrantic profile image

      SaintFrantic 6 years ago

      So tiny looks like big sparrow.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 6 years ago from Colorado

      Enjoyed this lens. I have kestrels living near me here in an alpine valley of Colorado. Beautiful birds.

    • profile image

      vivahoffmann 6 years ago

      a nesting pair in a palm tree out by the pool. in air most of the time. male usually sits on nest. another pair trying to evict them every evening. the nesting pair divert the interlopers by sitting on different trees. sometimes there are fights. tonight the male i think brought something to eat on another palm tree, on the ends of the cut-off fronds, just as the nest is on the ends of the cut-off fronds on the opposite end of the pool. I'm in the desert. there are about ten palm trees, five on each end of the pool. first the female ate from whatever it was, then the male, then the female again. they don't like being observed and turn a gimlet eye to me, when I have the binoculars. at least that's what it seems like.

    • annieangel1 profile image

      Ann 6 years ago from Yorkshire, England

      good lens, Angel blessed and featured on my wild bird lenses lens

    • Andy-Po profile image

      Andy 8 years ago from London, England

      Great lens. I see the European variety frequently from my lounge window (they hover, waiting to pounce on small rodents in the field in front) but I'm not sure if I have seen the American variety.

    • religions7 profile image

      religions7 8 years ago

      Great lens - you've been blessed by a squidoo angel :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      We have Kestrels in the UK but I think they are a bit bigger than their American cousins. Beautiful lens and blessed by an Angel!

    • profile image

      Olav_the_Viking 8 years ago

      The Kestral nesting box that I built last year and set up on our south half acre appears to have been located by a pair that I have observed recently. They are now going in and out of the box, performing mating activities, etc. I don't believe that the female has started laying yet, since she and the male are both still hunting in the area. I observed one of them take a sparrow near our chicken coop where there is always a lot of scratch available. Hopefully this pair will produce many offspring.

    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 8 years ago from La Verne, CA

      When we first moved to our neighborhood I saw the kestrel a couple of times. After 25 yrs i see them no more, but we have built a bird house that we hope has good specs to attract them to mate. I will let you know of we get any chicks.

    • naturegirl7s profile image

      Yvonne L. B. 9 years ago from Covington, LA

      Kestrels will nest in boxes if they are built with the right specs for them. Welcome to the Naturally Native Squids group. Don't forget to add your lens link to the appropriate plexo and vote for it.

    • profile image

      fledgling 9 years ago

      Great lens, very informative. I live in Downeast Maine, and was leaving my garage, and heard the recognizable sound of a bird in distress. As I rounded the corner, I was startled by a kestrel who appeared to have a starling on the ground. The Kestrel looked at me, and both birds flew quickly away. I did not know it was a Kestrel at the time, but the face markings were easily identifiable.I hope the starling was not mortally wounded.

    • profile image

      ANDRI 9 years ago

      wondeful lens with wonderful bird

    • wildrosetreasure profile image

      wildrosetreasure 9 years ago

      Great lens.

    • profile image

      beesknees-23 9 years ago

      The Feline Citizens really like your taste in birds... Great lens!!

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 9 years ago

      Beautiful Lens! From one birder to another, you did a great job. * * * * *


    • clouda9 lm profile image

      clouda9 lm 9 years ago

      Beautiful and insightful lens!

    • Teacher Adez7 profile image

      Teacher Adez7 9 years ago

      Love the Lens! I helped one of these little guys once and he was just a wonderful friend. :) *****

    • sisterra profile image

      sisterra 9 years ago

      I love all of your lens! They are fantastic.