Wednesday, July 27, 2011

American Kestrel Falco sparverius

American Kestrel Falco sparverius
The American Kestrel often hunts on the wing, hovering over fields and open land searching for mice, lizards, small snakes, and frogs; when grasshoppers are abundant, these insects usually become the bird's chief food. Formerly known as the Sparrow Hawk, this species flies on long, pointed wings; when it lands on a perch, it often pumps its tail up and down. The American Kestrel is the smallest North American falcon.

Identification Small, with long, pointed wings and rusty tail and back. Adult male has blue-gray wings and rusty crown; female has black-barred, rufous wings. Underparts white or buff, male's with black spots, female's with heavy streaks.

Voice A loud, shrill killy-killy-killy.

Habitat Open countryside, grasslands, farms, suburbs, and city parks.

Range S. Alaska to Newfoundland, south through South America. Winters north as far as S. British Columbia, Illinois, and New England.

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