American Kestrel Fact Sheet

Common Name:

American Kestrel

Scientific Name:

Falco sparverius

Wild Status:

Least Concern


Open fields


North and South America


Cavities in trees, rocks, or buildings

Life Span:

11 years


8-12 in tall with a wingspan of 20-24 in

Cool Facts:

  • They are the most common falcon in North America
  • They are the smallest falcon species in North America and the second smallest in the world.
  • Falcons are more closely related to parrots than other raptors.
  • They can thrive in urban habitats making their nests on the edges of buildings and hunting pigeons twice their weight.
  • They are sexually dimorphic meaning the males and females have distinctly different features making it easy to tell their gender, which is rare for most raptors.
  • The males have a blue-grey coloration at the ends of their wings, a spotted chest, and one thick black stripe across their tail feathers called a sub terminal band. The females have a rust brown coloration on their wings with vertical dashes on their chest, and several thinner stripes on their tail feathers.


Like most falcons, The American Kestrel is diurnal and relies heavily on their sight and speed when hunting, so they prefer habitats with wide open fields with a few tall places to perch. Their eye sight is believed to be 8 to 12 times better than ours, with the ability to see into the ultraviolet spectrum of light. This is beneficial to them because they can see trails of rodent urine to know where their prey is congregating. They hunt a wide variety of prey including small rodents, birds, and insects. During mating season, the males will perform theatrical displays of flying very high and swoop diving down while making a special mating call, if the female is impressed she will return the call and sometimes join the male in diving. They have tiny bones in their nostrils called nasal tubercles that help push air into their lungs when they swoop dive. They are very vocal birds and make a wide range of high pitched calls, their young can make the same calls as adults by the time they’re two weeks old.

Taxonomic Breakdown:

Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Aves Order: Falconiformes Family: Falconidae Genus: Falco Species: F. sparverius

Conservation & Helping:

The American Kestrel is considered Least Concern on the endangered species list.

For Teachers and Educators


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