A female American Kestrel and an American Pipit’s demise

/, American Pipits, Birds, Davis County, Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area, Utah/A female American Kestrel and an American Pipit’s demise

Fluffed up female American Kestrel in low lightFluffed up female American Kestrel in low light

Yesterday I spotted a female American Kestrel next to the road at Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area in low light and with snow falling, she was a beauty perched on a rusty hunk of metal.

American Kestrel female and her preyAmerican Kestrel female and her prey

The second time I spotted the female American Kestrel had prey in her talons and when I looked at the prey I could tell it was an American Pipit. The light was still low but I took plenty of images any way. Here the falcon is plucking feathers from the pipit.

Female American kestrel with Pipit feathers on her billFemale American kestrel with Pipit feathers on her bill

The was photographed near a bridge with a boat ramp and some hunters with an air boat where making plenty of noise, I half expected her to take flight with her prey at any second. I could tell that the noise made her nervous.

Female American kestrel and her preyFemale American kestrel and her prey

The noise from the air boat was deafening but the little falcon kept plucking away. At times she would turn and look right at me as if she was saying “Do ya hear that awful noise?”.

Female American Kestrel dropping her preyFemale American Kestrel dropping the American Pipit

After a bit I could see she was struggling to maintain a grasp on her prey and in this frame I caught the American Pipit falling to the snow-covered ground below.

Female American Kestrel after failing to get her preyFemale American Kestrel after failing to get her prey

When the kestrel went down to retrieve her prey she seemed to not be able to find it on her first attempt, this image shows her lifting off from the snow to land on the rusty metal, look at all that snow flying!

Female American Kestrel getting her balance backFemale American Kestrel getting her balance back

In this frame the kestrel was getting her balance back, she looks pretty ferocious to me! The feathers and snow were still flying.

The American Kestrel retrieves her preyThe American Kestrel retrieves her prey

On her second attempt to retrieve her prey the female kestrel grasped it in her bill and flew away from the noise of the air boat and the hunters.

Kestrel hiding with her prey under a concrete slabKestrel hiding with her prey under a concrete slab

She found a concrete slab and hid under it for a bit before she flew off which was interesting behavior.

I normally see American Kestrels with voles as prey but seeing her with the American Pipit once again showed me why American Kestrels used to be called Sparrow Hawks which is why some people probably still use that name.

I wish I would have had better light for this great encounter with the female American Kestrel and her prey, as it was all of the photos in this series were taken at ISO 800 just to have some shutter speed.



  1. [email protected] December 16, 2013 at 1:14 am

    On another post I asked about the air boats. Okay, I had a suspicion it might be waterfowl hunters but wasn’t sure. The noise pollution I’ve encountered in hunting areas is sometimes dramatic and not often discussed, so I’m glad you did. Sound ecology is a significant element for one like me with sensitive ears. As such, I can only imagine what animals hear and how the louder sounds disrupt. Have you seen the study which suggests that birds like robins are actually singing louder to overcome human urban noise?

  2. Julie Brown December 12, 2013 at 4:50 am

    Nice series, Mia!

  3. eric c11 December 11, 2013 at 12:22 am

    unbelivable scene, to see her going on the ground under a piece of concrete is very unusual
    good serie mia, and thank for sharing

  4. Utahbooklover December 9, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    I very much enjoyed this photo-story Mia. Thanks for your wonderful work!

  5. Syl Lobato December 9, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    Wow..what fabulous shots..It so wonderful when you can capture nature like this..

  6. Elephant's Child December 9, 2013 at 11:50 am

    Wonderful series. And who cannot sympathise on the noise front…

  7. Len Boeder December 9, 2013 at 9:54 am

    That is a wonderful series of photos. I think you are being to critical of yourself. Nobody else has a series of pictures like that!

  8. jerry liguori December 9, 2013 at 8:37 am

    I meant for me…….

    • Mia McPherson December 9, 2013 at 8:42 am

      LOL. Oh! -12 at Farmington right now

  9. jerry liguori December 9, 2013 at 7:58 am

    Great series of shots! Maybe its time to go to Nikon?

    • Mia McPherson December 9, 2013 at 8:05 am

      Thanks Jerry…. I do shoot Nikon 😉

  10. Patty Chadwick December 9, 2013 at 7:45 am

    Glad you get to see/photograph one…they’ve gotten pretty scarce around here….

  11. Ilze Long December 9, 2013 at 7:43 am

    Love your tales of bird/animal encounters. Thank you for sharing.

  12. Montanagirl December 9, 2013 at 8:41 am

    Super set of shots. I think the lighting looks fine, and you sure managed a wonderful sequence of photos!

  13. Glen Fox December 9, 2013 at 6:33 am

    Great captures of an interesting behavioural sequence Mia under very challenging conditions.

  14. Ricky Jones December 9, 2013 at 6:07 am

    Gorgeous work Mia.

Comments are closed.