In honor of Douglas Jay, this Animal of the Week is a falcon! However you might not know that by name, as this is the American Kestrel. These are the most common falcons found in North America, so many of you defenders might have seen them before. The American Kestrel is also the second smallest falcon species in the world, which usually leads to people forgetting they're falcons in the first place. Their lifespan also reflects their small size, only living around 11 years on average. A keen hunter, the American Kestrel has strong eyesight believed to be 8 to 12 times as strong as a human. Combined with their flight speed, this helps them spot out tons of prey from small rodents to even other birds.
Where can you find the American Kestrel?
As their name suggests, the American Kestrel is found across the Americas! Specifically, they cover a variety of habitats. Anything from meadows and grasslands, to even more desert regions can be a Kestrel's home. These birds also appear in urban or suburban areas, so they're a common favorite for local birdwatchers in all locations.
Is it legal to own an American Kestrel?
Being so abundant in North America, as well as their smaller size, the American Kestrel is extremely common in falconry. They are considered a beginner bird, however they still require careful control and dedication. American Kestrels are ambush hunters and better at short chases, so they primarily hunt birds like sparrows. Falconers who work with American Kestrels must be careful to protect their bird from larger predators.
How fast can an American Kestrel fly?
The American Kestrel may be a tiny bird, but they've got some great speed. This bird can reach speeds of almost 40 miles per hour! Normally they fly anywhere from 30 to 60 feet above the ground. Their amazing eyesight helps them spot prey from these distances as they zoom down and strike!
What does an American Kestrel eat?
Being a small bird, the American Kestrel primarily has small prey. These raptors will eat a variety of insects like grasshoppers, dragonflies, and beetles. Small rodents, lizards, and even other small birds also end up on the menu. On occasion, the American Kestrel has even been found to kill snakes, bats, and squirrels!