Ed Golson Outdoor Education

American Kestrel

Scientific Name: Falco sparverius

Description:  These birds, like most other birds look different by sex.  The male is mostly a rust color with blue, black and white spots.  The female, on the other hand, has no blue on its wings, and is mostly rust color with heavy black bars across them.  They both have distinguishing characteristics, such as black spots on their cheeks and curved beaks.  The American kestrel is one of the most colorful raptors in North America and is commonly called the sparrow hawk.  These birds can grow up to 12 inches long. They are much smaller than most other falcons.


Habitat:  These birds are found all over North America.  Found in mostly urban and suburban areas, these are the only falcon or hawks to nest in cavities.  The cavity holes can be found in trees or in nest boxes made by people. 

Food:  These birds are carnivorous and eat insects, small mammals, reptiles, and amphibians.


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