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The American Kestrel is the smallest species of falcon in North America and one of the most colorful.


They are small falcons reaching up to 15 inches long. Males have a blue wing, bare tail, and black spots on its chest. Females have brown wings, chestnut spots on its chest, and a barred tail. Both sexes have a white face, black "ears", a black teardrop, blue cap, red spot on top of the cap, rufous nape, breast, and collar, chestnut back, tail, black wing tips, and a black spot on the nape.


They live all over America, wintering in Central America, breeding in Canada, and living year-round in the United States. Kestrels live in semi-open country.

Life History[]

Kestrels eat insects, birds, and mice. They nest in old woodpecker holes, natural cavities, and nest boxes.


  • The American Kestrel is shrinking in body size.
  • Sports fans in some cities get an extra show during night games: kestrels catching snacks on the wing. Some of their hunting flights have even made it onto TV sports coverage.
  • Unlike humans, birds can see ultraviolet light. This enables kestrels to make out the trails of urine that voles, a common prey mammal, leave as they run along the ground. Like neon diner signs, these bright paths may highlight the way to a meal.
  • American Kestrels hide surplus kills in grass clumps, tree roots, bushes, fence posts, tree limbs, and cavities, to save the food for lean times or to hide it from thieves.
  • The oldest American Kestrel was a male and at least 14 years, 8 months old when he was found in Utah in 2001. He had been banded in the same state in 1987.