A preening American Kestrel ~ Friday Photos

/, American Kestrels, Antelope Island State Park, Davis County, Utah/A preening American Kestrel ~ Friday Photos

American Kestrels hold a special interest for me, they are North America’s smallest falcon but what they lack in size they make up for in attitude. These falcons can be feisty.

Perched American Kestrel malePerched American Kestrel male – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1600, ISO 400, +1.0 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

Here in Utah they are difficult to approach except for during the winter, they get “stickier” in the cold. We have a stable population of American Kestrels in Utah but in other parts of the United States their populations are declining.

Even American Kestrels can look goofyEven American Kestrels can look goofy – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1250, ISO 400, +1.0 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

I spotted this male American Kestrel resting on the top of a Rabbitbrush that was fairly close to the road I was on and after a few minutes the kestrel began to preen. As handsome as they are most of the time they can look quite goofy while preening.

American Kestrel preening its tail feathersAmerican Kestrel preening its tail feathers – D300, f6.3, 1/1000, ISO 400, +1.0 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

I’m always pleased when I can get close enough to an American Kestrel to get images but I was even happier to get these while the small falcon was preening and paid little attention to me. In the photo above the bird was pulling its tail feather through its bill to clean it.

American Kestrel with tail fanned American Kestrel with tail fanned – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1250, ISO 400, +1.0 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

As the falcon preened I was able to anticipate the movements it made and that gave me some interesting shots.

What a cute pose!What a cute pose! – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1250, ISO 400, +1.0 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

I really liked the pose above, the Kestrel was just rubbing its head against its shoulder while it preened and quite often the eyes are closed when this occurs so I was glad that I had eye contact in this frame plus the lifted wing.

American Kestrel cleaning his feetAmerican Kestrel cleaning his feet – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1600, ISO 400, +1.0 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

I had a lot of fun photographing this preening American Kestrel and appreciated the lovely setting, light and the various poses that it gave me.

Mia

15 Comments

  1. From Moments to Memories January 9, 2012 at 10:10 pm

    Beautiful shots, I can’t believe how crisp and clear they are. Love the Kestrels!

    • Mia McPherson January 10, 2012 at 7:07 am

      Thanks you so much for your comment and for visiting my blog. Kestrels are wonderful birds to photograph!

  2. Julie Brown January 8, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    You had nice light for this series, Mia. Interesting behaviors, and the bird pops nicely from the blue background.

    • Mia McPherson January 8, 2012 at 8:08 pm

      Thank you Julie, I was pleased with the light and the setting!

  3. Dan Huber January 7, 2012 at 8:27 am

    wonderful captures of some different poses Mia.

  4. Mike Masin January 7, 2012 at 7:59 am

    Great poses Mia.

    • Mia McPherson January 8, 2012 at 7:50 am

      Thank you very much Mike.

  5. Tammy Karr January 7, 2012 at 6:15 am

    Beautiful! The Rabbitbrush makes a lovely perch that nicely complements the Kestrel’s colors.

    • Mia McPherson January 8, 2012 at 7:48 am

      Tammy,

      Thanks so much for your very kind words. The Rabbitbrush was indeed a lovely perch.

  6. Bob Zeller January 7, 2012 at 6:08 am

    Wonderful photos of one of my favorite falcons. I had one lead me a merry chase through San Angelo State Park before it finally lit in the top of a tree. I ended up getting some great photos. But you are so right about their attitude. I love ’em. Thanks for sharing yours,Mia.

    • Mia McPherson January 8, 2012 at 7:47 am

      Thanks for your comment Bob, glad to know we share a love of this tiny falcon. Hoping to see more today.

  7. Prairie Birder January 6, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    Very beautiful photos Mia, you captured the kestrels actions very well.

    • Mia McPherson January 8, 2012 at 7:46 am

      Thank you Prairie Birder, he was a very beautiful bird.

  8. Julie G. January 6, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    Oh my goodness … exceptional series, Mia! Outstanding sequence of American Kestrel behavior. Your photographs show off the lovely plumage of the bird in a most beautiful manner. I am in awe. A joy to visit your wonderful blog!

    • Mia McPherson January 8, 2012 at 7:46 am

      Thanks Julie, I was very happy the Kestrel stuck around to preen!

Comments are closed.