Female American Kestrel lifting off after consuming her prey – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/2500, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited
I’m keeping this post short and sweet this morning because I’m not feeling great. I sneezed repeatedly yesterday morning while I was out photographing so it seems that my seasonal allergies have kicked into high gear then after I got back home I developed a headache that lasted until I went to sleep and I woke up with it this morning. This will pass and I’ll be back to 100% soon.
I did see some nice birds yesterday including a couple of Short-eared Owls, Northern Harriers, Swainson’s and Red-tailed Hawks, one Cooper’s Hawk, one immature Bald Eagle, lot of Turkey Vultures, a Chukar, my first of the season Western Kingbirds, many smaller birds that flew away too fast to be identified, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, some Ring-necked Pheasants, magpies and meadowlarks.
The bird that was the most cooperative yesterday morning was a female American Kestrel that I spotted eating her prey on a lichen encrusted rock that stuck around until after she had finished consuming the small rodent she had captured before I found her. I took several hundred images of her while she ate her prey and then proceeded to clean off her bill.
I wanted to share just one photo of the kestrel and picked this one of her that was taken the moment she started to lift off from the rock she had been dining on because of the position of her wings, the great eye contact plus the silvery background which is out of focus rabbitbrush. I wish those out of focus grass stems weren’t in front of the rock but there wasn’t much I could do about them.
Life is good.
A few American Kestrel facts:
- The American Kestrel is the smallest and most colorful falcon species of North America.
- The male and female are alike in shape but different in coloration, the male has slate-blue wings and head that contrast nicely with his rusty back and tail and the female has those same rusty tones on her back, wings and tail. The female also has a barred pattern on her back, wings and tail. Both the male and female have boldly patterned heads.
- They hunt mainly for insects and small mammals but will take a small bird when they have the chance. American Kestrels usually capture their prey on the ground but they will also catch prey on the wing.
- Their habitat includes, open meadows, grasslands, deserts, road sides, towns, cities and farmlands.
- American Kestrels are cavity nesters. They lay between 3 to 7 eggs which take 26 to 32 days to hatch. The female is the primary incubator but males will also incubate on occasion.
- A common nickname for American Kestrels is “Sparrow Hawk”.
- A group of falcons can be called a “bazaar”, “eyrie”, “stooping up” and a “tower” of falcons.
- American Kestrels live between 10 to 15 years.