Tiny but Tough – Female American Kestrel

Female American Kestrel and a VoleFemale American Kestrel and a Vole – Nikon D200, f7.1, 1/500, ISO 400, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

I would describe American Kestrels as tiny but tough, they are North America’s smallest falcon but I don’t think that hinders them at all. American Kestrels are year round residents here in Utah and they have to tolerate some very harsh conditions during our long, cold winters.

When I photographed this female American Kestrel in the winter of 2010 it was bitter cold and as I recall,there was plenty of snow on the ground and the morning fog hung heavy in the air. I didn’t see the kestrel catch the vole but I did see her feed on it rather voraciously.

American Kestrel populations are declining in many locations, even here in Utah there numbers seem to be dropping. For more information about the declining populations and how you can help as a citizen scientist please check out the American Kestrel Partnership, a project of the Peregrine Fund.




  1. Julie Brown October 14, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    Great shot as always. Nice to see most of the field marks as well as prey.

  2. Elephant's Child October 14, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    So many birds seem to ‘punch well above their weight’. Size certainly isn’t everything – or even much at all some days.
    Stunning bird, and photo. Thank you.

  3. Jeannie October 14, 2013 at 9:36 am

    Great image. Every spring , there is a female kestral who nests nearby . She sits atop a tall evergreen am and Pm eating her catch. When the babies fledge, she brings them to the tree. This yea, one of the babies on one of its first flights, took a rest on my window sill 5 flights up. I grabbed my iphone and got a few shots..just an amazing experience, as it looked straight at me with no fear. only a screen separated us.

  4. Wally October 14, 2013 at 9:11 am

    Mia, great post and superb image!

    It’s been quite interesting to search for Kestrel nests this past year. We found more than anticipated locally (west-central Florida) but, even more encouraging, we found several family groups late in the summer consisting of 3 and 4 fledglings. This species is the American Southeastern Kestrel (Falco sparverius Paulus) and is a sub-species of the American Kestrel. Hope this coming spring will be even more fruitful!

    In the meantime, good numbers of migratory American Kestrels are flowing into the area for the winter. Pretty neat to see a dozen of these beauties hunting within a single square mile!

  5. Montanagirl October 14, 2013 at 7:03 am

    Very striking photo! They’re truly an amazing little falcon.

  6. patty chadwick October 14, 2013 at 6:58 am

    The kestrel is one of my favorite birds…hearing that their numbers are declining makes me terribly worried and sad!

  7. judy watson October 14, 2013 at 6:21 am

    Very nice! I love these little birds

  8. Eileen October 14, 2013 at 5:21 am

    Cool capture both for you and the Kestrel!

  9. Bob Bushell October 14, 2013 at 4:27 am

    A beautiful Kestrel photo Mia.

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