Male American Kestrel On A Sign Post With His Prey

/, Birds, Davis County, Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area, Utah/Male American Kestrel On A Sign Post With His Prey

Male American Kestrel on a post with preyMale American Kestrel on a post with prey – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/2000, ISO 400, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

It was foggy yesterday morning at Farmington Bay WMA but I could tell that with blue skies overhead and the bright sun chances were that the fog would burn off quickly and thankfully I was right about that.

It didn’t seem very “birdy” at Farmington Bay yesterday at first. The start of the morning was when I saw and photographed a long distance Rough-legged Hawk and a Great Blue Heron out on frosty field plus a few gulls flying over open water. There were ducks in Unit 1 too but they were back lit and I don’t’ usually try to photograph birds there in the morning.

Then I spotted a male American Kestrel with a vole on a rail next to the road who flew with his prey to a sign post when a vehicle rumbled by. That section of road at the WMA is like a washboard and no one can drive by quietly.

The tiny falcon settled in with his prey and began to consume it on the lightly frosted top of the post. I’ve found American Kestrels to be “stickier” in cold weather and it wasn’t much above 20°F when I photographed him as he consumed the vole bit by bit.

American Kestrel male holding prey in his beakAmerican Kestrel male holding prey in his beak – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 320, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

At first the kestrel ate the vole while facing almost directly at me and I kept hoping he’d turn sideways so I could see more of his body and his tail then after a bit he picked the vole up in his beak and moved it slightly on the post then faced towards me again. I wasn’t sure if he was getting ready to lift off or if he was going to settle back down and continue eating his prey.

Male American Kestrel attempting to lift off with preyMale American Kestrel attempting to lift off with prey – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 500, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

When another vehicle rumbled past the kestrel looked like he was going to lift off and and even opened his wings in an attempted lift off but once again the falcon settled back down and simply looked around. Within seconds though he grasped the vole in his talons and lifted off, I didn’t get any decent images of the lift off because he was facing west and his wings covered his head or put it in a dark shadow.

The kestrel flew towards a hill where I saw him land about halfway up it near a rock in the snow. Since he hadn’t finished consuming the vole he may have cached it near the rock where he could easily find it later.

Photographing this kestrel was a main highlight of my day.

Life is good.



  1. Pepe Forte January 7, 2018 at 12:52 pm

    Great pics! That vole must weigh nearly as much as the Kestrel…it is amazing that he could actually lift off with it. Lots of strength in that little guy. Thanks Mia.

  2. medfair January 5, 2018 at 3:00 pm

    Very nice!

  3. Ken Schneider January 5, 2018 at 3:40 am

    Great shots of a beautiful bird!

  4. Elephants Child January 3, 2018 at 12:26 pm

    Seeing this kestral and his plump prey on yours and Ron’s blog is likely to be the highlight of my day. Thank you.

  5. Patty Ritter January 3, 2018 at 12:24 pm

    I’m so amazed at the vibrant color of the Kestrel! What an amazing bird!

  6. April Olson January 3, 2018 at 10:14 am

    Great Capture. In the second photo the vole looks almost as big as the kestrel. I went out to Farmington Bay, but at 11am. I knew it would be foggy and mostly I was hoping for less hunters later in the day. I wanted to walk out on the dike to the west to look for Tundra Swans. I love to hear them. I did not see any yet. I did see 4 Bald Eagles all at a distance on the ice. Many Great Blue Herons and Harriers. It has not been very birdy this year compared to past years. I also did not notice as many voles. Usually when I walk out there I will see holes, tunnels and actual voles running about the sides of the road. Last summer they did a lot of work on that dike and widened the road, put new fences in perhaps it disturbed colonies or perhaps it is a low vole year.

  7. Laura Culley January 3, 2018 at 7:54 am

    WOW! That Kestrel hit the jackpot with the vole. He won’t be hungry again until tomorrow, but that doesn’t mean he won’t take the next opportunity that arises. My, but I love Kestrels, especially the males. They’re so darn gorgeous! And what a terrific catch for you! YAY!

  8. Grace Dunklee Cohen January 3, 2018 at 7:38 am

    Right time, right subject andright photographer, Mia McPherson. Great capture of this American Kestrel with prey – thanks for sharing this photo story!

  9. Patty Chadwick one of my favorite birds January 3, 2018 at 7:37 am

    These beautiful little creatures are the most gorgeous tiny assassins….

  10. Liz Cormack January 3, 2018 at 7:28 am

    Beautiful bird. Beautiful photos.

  11. Bob mcphersons January 3, 2018 at 7:18 am

    Beautiful photo MiA

  12. LSClemens January 3, 2018 at 6:55 am

    Photo #2: that vole is pretty good sized…a big meal!

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