Annie: American Kestrel

Photo: Annie, a Female American Kestrel

Annie was found in May 2008 as a nestling and was fed the wrong food by well-meaning, but untrained and unlicensed people. As a result she suffered from metabolic bone disease, which is caused by a lack of calcium and other vital minerals in the diet. A falconer took over her care and introduced Annie to mice and other whole mammal prey, but her bones were already permanently deformed.

Annie came to CRC September 29, 2008, as an unreleasable bird. She was not only imprinted on humans, but she stood on the ground rather than sitting on a perch designed to protect her feet. In November, she contracted “bumblefoot” (sores on the feet) and was successfully treated for this condition. She has, over time, learned to perch properly.

Annie began the "taming"* process in January 2009. She now remains calm "on the glove" before audiences. With her cagemate "Spar," Annie illustrates the color differences between male and female kestrels—one of the rare species of raptors that display such sexual dimorphism. Spar has beautiful blue-gray wings and a clear rust tail with a black bar at the bottom. Annie's over-all striped rust and black back and tail are equally beautiful, even if not so dramatic!

American Kestrels are the smallest falcon in the US, and the most common. They can be see all year round in California, usually sitting on a wire or hovering over a field, looking for prey.

* Taming is the process of teaching a bird to stay perched on your gloved fist. The bird is fitted with special leather bracelets around the ankles, to which jesses, a swivel, and a leash are attached. This equipment keeps the bird from flying away or from injury if it should become agitated.

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