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