Hovering American Kestrel

Male American Kestrel hovering

Male American Kestrel hovering – Nikon D300, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 640, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited, no decoy

Hovering Kestrel shots aren’t easy to capture without baiting or using decoys, part of that is because I can’t tell when a kestrel might get it in its mind to hover for prey, the other part is being in the right place at the right time. I can’t even remember how many times I have seen kestrels hovering that were too far away or hovering right over me in really horrendous light or how many times they are hovering close by but facing the wrong way. Seeing them hover and being unable to get the images is very frustrating.

Hovering American Kestrel

Hovering American Kestrel – Nikon D300, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 640, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited, no decoy

I photographed this male American Kestrel hovering while on the causeway leaving Antelope Island and I was able to get images with light in the birds eyes in fairly decent light but I still hope I can get images like this with some clouds in the sky and a little bit closer. I do think these images show the great poses of a hovering kestrel and how handsome our smallest kestrel in North America is.

It seems that I don’t just have “nemesis birds”, I also have “nemesis dream shots” too.


* Yep, I am on the road again, please feel free to share this post with your family and friends! Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comments.


  1. Mia McPherson June 11, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    Thanks to all of you who commented on this post and the images. I sincerely appreciate each one.

  2. Prairie Birder June 3, 2013 at 12:49 am

    Excellent photos, Mia! He is so beautiful!

  3. M. Firpi June 2, 2013 at 11:43 pm

    I agree I could also live in a field and be happy. Great images!

  4. Utahbooklover June 2, 2013 at 9:31 pm

    These are wonderful Mia! I see one hovering over the vacant lot behind our house regularly, likely looking for the voles that invade our back yard. I am inspired to try photographing it and I must visit Antrlope Island sometime soon. Thanks again for sharing your nice work and informative posts.

  5. Wally June 2, 2013 at 9:01 pm

    This is also one of my “nemesis dream shots”! Fantastic photographs, Mia! I’m not jealous, just happy to see that it can be done! Very nice work!

  6. Elephant's Child June 2, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    This is SUCH a gorgeous bird. Heart-stopping beauty. Thank you.

  7. eric c11 June 2, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    ahhh woow, it s magic !! what a nice move captured, i like it
    thanks mia ☺

  8. Kathleen Finnerty June 2, 2013 at 7:32 am

    Wonderful, Mia! I didn’t even know kestrels hovered at all! Thanks for sharing.

  9. Beverly Everson June 2, 2013 at 7:06 am


  10. Kathleen June 2, 2013 at 7:04 am

    Smallest falcon in North America; only kestrel. Great images – on Friday I had a chance to show a friend what a hovering kestrel looks like, but our views were nothing like yours. The highlight for me however was holding the kestrel chick moments (not days or hours!) after it had been born. It was still wet and stuck to the shell.

  11. Julie G. June 2, 2013 at 6:32 am

    Wow, stunning photographs! These fantastic images certainly show off the beautiful kestrel plumage.

  12. John Randall June 2, 2013 at 6:28 am

    Amazing photos Mia !

  13. Dick Harlow June 2, 2013 at 4:59 am

    You obviously were in the right place at the right time!
    As you know, studying, being outside a ton, and patience not baiting, is key!
    Excellent images, many thanks for sharing.

    • Mia McPherson June 2, 2013 at 6:06 am

      Thanks Dick, baiting is against my ethics so I spend a lot of time in the field getting these types of images. I should live in the field not in a house!

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