American Kestrel

Order: Falconiformes
Family: Falconidae
Genus: Falco
Species: sparverius

Gr. phalkon  falcon
La. falcula, falcis  small sickle
      (representing their talons)
La. forma  form, shape, kind
La. sparverius  sparrows
      (for their prey)

Smallest of the American falcons, ten or eleven inches long.

American Kestrel, Chester A. Reed, Birds of Eastern North America, 1912

  John L. Ridgeway,

Upper parts chestnut red; wings and lower part of back barred; top of head head slate blue; black patches beneath the eyes and behind the ears; brown barred white-tipped tail; under parts buff white with black spots on the sides.

Ranges throughout North America and northern South America in forests, open prairies, farms, towns and cities.

USGS Kestrel Map


It builds no nest, but deposits its eggs in the natural or abandoned cavities of high trees, deserted magpie nests, in rock crevices and stone quarries, in holes high in river banks, or nooks in buildings on farms and often in cities in places like church steeples.

Lays around four or five speckled eggs of varying colors which hatch after about four weeks of incubation and young leave the nest after about another four weeks.

Eats mostly mice and insects such as grasshoppers and spiders. Also eats snakes, lizards, small birds and rodents.

Early studies by ornithologists revealed that Kestrels take few birds when insects and mice are abundant and concluded this diet is beneficial to humans.

It does not soar high like its hawk cousins. With its incredibly keen eyesight it scans a broad landscape from a high perch where it can spot game from further away than seems possible or it flies swiftly and gracefully near the ground.

When it spots something it hovers motionless in mid air waiting for the right opportunity, suddenly swooping down to the ground, then arising with its prey in its talons.

The Kestrel Nestbox (below, same as for Eastern Screech Owl, Western Screech Owl and Barrow's Goldeneye) has a 8" by 8" floor, 15" inside ceiling, 3" diameter entrance hole located 12" above the floor and ventilation openings. Assembled with corrosion resistant screws fit to pre-drilled countersunk pilot holes. Hinged roof is secured with shutter hooks for easy access.

Mount at the edge of a forest area or on a post in an open area in a rural or city yard between twelve and twenty feet high. Place some wood chips on the floor. Squirrels may use this box.


Kestrel Nest Boxes


Species Nestbox Dimensions for Kestrel, Eastern Screech Owl, Western Screech Owl & Barrow's Goldeneye      Woodworking Birdhouse Planss for Wood Duck, Hooded Merganser, Kestrel and Screech Owl


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