Female American Kestrel with prey

Female American Kestrel with preyFemale American Kestrel with prey – Nikon D200, f7.1, 1/2000, ISO 320, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

American Kestrels are fascinating falcons, they are tiny, colorful and at times quite pugnacious. The female and male have different plumage coloration (sexual dichromatism) and the female is generally 10% larger than the male (sexual size dimorphism).  American Kestrels are also the most widespread falcons in North America and its range extends from Alaska to Argentina which include as many as 17 subspecies. Not that long ago American Kestrels were called “Sparrow Hawks” and many people still use that common name.

This female American Kestrel captured a vole at Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area on New Years Eve of 2009 and flew up to a post to devour her prey. Though the image might be considered graphic by some people for me it simply shows nature, the kestrel’s behavior and allows a close up look of our tiniest falcon.


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About Mia McPherson

I am a nature lover, wildlife watcher and a bird photographer. I first become serious about bird photography when I moved to Florida in 2004 and it wasn’t long before I was hooked (addicted is more like it). My move to the Salt Lake area of Utah was a great opportunity to continue observing their behavior and to pursue my passion for photographing birds.


  1. Jane Chesebrough

    Don’t always see the female, who is less colourful but still dons an attractive set of feathers.And deadly.

  2. Beautiful capture Mia. Great detail. From the looks of that post she eats there fairly often ;-) I’m lucky, I usually see an American Kestrel, nearly every day, on my way to or from work.

  3. I love this birds, beautiful picture!

  4. Such a dainty little assassin. Who needs to eat, and doesn’t play with her food. Stunnning image. Again.

  5. Wonderful shot of “The Cutest Of Killers”…Funny, but an image of a headless mouse or vole doesn’t bother me as much as a whole, still alive, still suffering one….

  6. North America’s smallest falcon is also one of the most colorful, I think. They also eat insects but I’m sure they prefer red meat like the above vole — nice shot Mia.

  7. That’s a great look at nature in action – and everything has to eat!

  8. They are beautiful … great capture!!

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