American Kestrel

Male Kestrel

Female Kestrel


American Kestrel
Falco sparverius

The American Kestrel is a year round resident in Texas and is common throughout the United States.  It is the smallest falcon in North America. It can be found in open areas usually sitting on a powerline overlooking a field. A common habit is bobbing its head and ‘wagging’ its tail up and down while perched.  This is the only raptor than can be identified as male or female based on plumage.

Species information:

Length:            9”
Wingspan:       23”
Weight:           Male: 85 – 100g (3 oz); Female: 110 – 125g (4 oz)

Plumage:  Difference between male and female.  Male has gray-blue on wings and on much of the head, tail is solid rust-red with black band at tip. Female has rust-red wings and tail with black bars. Usually a little bit of gray-blue on head. Both have spots on chest though male usually has light rust color overall on upper half.

Habitat: Found in open areas overlooking fields. Common on power lines looking for prey in fields.

Flight: Strong wing beats, but does not usually fly straight and powerful like larger falcons. Will ‘kite’ (hover) over fields when hunting.

Vocalization: A loud, fast killy-killy-killy.

Food: Small birds and mammals.

Nesting: Found in areas with scattered trees or edge of woodlands. Cavity nesters, will use nest boxes.  No material is added to nest, using what ever is already present. They usually lay 4-5 eggs that are incubated for about 30 days. Young fledge in about 5 weeks.