Lakeside Nature Center
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 prey.
Kestrels usually raise four or five babies two times a year. Mom kestrel 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.
Kestrels 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 been discovered.
To learn more about American Kestrels
(Photo credits: Baby kestrels from Alabama Wildlife Rescue; all others, Laurie Brown)