[Kestrel]Nature Note: Kestrels Colorful Raptor Found in Skiatook

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  Kestrel eggs in a nesting box

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  Adult female kestrel

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  Young female kestrel

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  Adult female kestrel (left) and adult male kestrel (right)

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  Four young female kestrels calling as their mother arrives with food.








  David John

  Kestrels are found on all continents except Antarctica. The American kestrel, also called a sparrow hawk, occurs in both North and South America. It is the smallest of the six kinds of falcons seen in North America. It is resident year-round in the Skiatook area.

  Slightly smaller than a robin but not as heavy, it is a colorful little raptor (bird of prey). The coloring is rusty overall with the male having blue-gray wings. The back, wings and tail of the female have dark brown bars. The barring is only on the back of the male. His tail is rufous with a black band across the tip. Both have a pair of black stripes on each side of the face. Since they are out in the open and often hunt from the air, the black stripe beneath the eye helps to reduce glare, much like the black smudge under the eyes of football players. As ariel predators, all falcons have a black stripe beneath the eye.

  Kestrels hunt from a perch or hover in the air and drop onto their prey, which includes small birds like sparrows, mice and insects. The male does all the hunting during the 8–12 weeks the female is incubating eggs and taking care of young. The female remains at the nest, and the two birds exchange food in the air on fluttering wings. Their call is a rapid shrill killy killy killy.

  Kestrels nest in cavities, and will use tree holes, abandoned woodpecker nests and bird boxes. We have them nesting every year on our property in boxes we put up for them. Unlike most hawks, falcons do not use nesting material. In the photo of the nest box, you will notice that the box is bare. I used to put wood shavings in the boxes, but starlings would take over and make nests, which I removed. Now I leave the boxes bare. We usually have more males than females in a nest, but one year the four young were all females. Kestrel nest boxes may be purchased from several sources. If interested, Google “kestrel nest boxes for sale.”




  Nest Box



  Bird Of Prey

  American Kestrel





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