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Birds are Amazing: The American Kestrel

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

Male American Kestrel

Height: 9 in.

Wingspan: 22 in.

Weight: 3.5 - 4 oz.

Lifespan: 10 to 15 years

The American kestrel, also known as the sparrow hawk, is a small but mighty bird of prey that can be found throughout North America. With its striking colors and impressive hunting abilities, this bird has captured the attention of bird enthusiasts and researchers alike.

Female American Kestrel


The American kestrel is the smallest falcon in North America, measuring only 8-12 inches in length and weighing in at around 2-5 ounces. Its wingspan can range from 20-24 inches, making it a small but powerful flyer.

One of the most distinctive features of the American kestrel is its coloring. Males have a blue-gray head and wings with a rusty-red back and tail, while females have a brown head and wings with black barring and a rusty-red back and tail. Both genders have a white face with black markings around the eyes.

Habitat and Range

American kestrels can be found throughout North America, from Alaska and Canada down to Central America. They can be found in a variety of habitats, including open fields, grasslands, meadows, and even urban areas. They are known to nest in cavities, such as abandoned woodpecker holes or man-made nest boxes.

Diet and Hunting

American kestrels are carnivorous and primarily feed on insects, small mammals, and birds. They are known for their hunting prowess and can often be seen perched on a high branch or wire, scanning the ground for prey. Once they spot their target, they will swoop down at incredible speeds, using their sharp talons to capture their meal.

Behavior and Conservation

American kestrels are highly territorial birds, with males often defending their nesting sites and hunting grounds from other birds. They are also known for their unique courtship displays, which involve the male performing acrobatic flights and offering prey to the female.

Despite their impressive hunting abilities, American kestrels face a number of threats, including habitat loss and pesticide use. To help protect these birds, many conservation organizations are working to create and maintain suitable habitats, as well as educating the public about the importance of preserving these small but mighty birds of prey.

The American kestrel is a fascinating bird that is both beautiful and powerful. With its striking colors and impressive hunting abilities, it is no wonder that this bird has captured the attention of so many people. By working to protect their habitats and raise awareness about their conservation, we can help ensure that the American kestrel continues to thrive for generations to come.

American Kestrel

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