The American Kestrel, also known as the Sparrow Hawk, is the smallest and most common falcon in North America. They measure 8-12 inches in length with a wingspan of 20-24 inches. The males weigh about 3.5 ounces, while the females are slightly larger and weigh about 4 ounces. They have a distinctive head pattern with a rusty-red back and tail, blue-gray wings, and a white and black striped face.
The American Kestrel is known for its hovering hunting technique, which allows them to spot their prey from above and swoop down to catch it. They primarily eat insects, but also consume small rodents, reptiles, and birds. Due to their small size, they are often preyed upon by larger birds of prey, such as hawks and owls.
These birds are found throughout North and South America, and some populations in northern regions will migrate to southern regions during the winter. However, many populations are non-migratory and can be found year-round in their respective habitats. They can be found in a variety of habitats, including grasslands, deserts, and agricultural areas.
In terms of breeding, American Kestrels are monogamous and will often return to the same breeding site year after year. They nest in cavities, such as abandoned woodpecker holes or man-made nest boxes. Females will lay a clutch of 3-7 eggs and incubate them for about a month before they hatch. The young will fledge after about a month and a half and will be independent after about two months.
Despite their widespread population, the American Kestrel is listed as a species of conservation concern in some areas due to habitat loss and pesticide use. Efforts to provide artificial nest sites and reduce the use of pesticides have helped to stabilize populations in some areas.