California Raptor Center

American Kestrel

Scientific Name: Falco sparvarius      
(Falco is Latin for falcon, sparvarius in Latin means ‘pertaining to a sparrow’ after its first common name Sparrow Hawk).

Size: Length: 8-11in Wingspan: 20-24in

Weight: Female: 132-160g(~0.29-0.35lb) Male: 94-126g(~0.21-0.28lb)

Lifespan: The average lifespan of this species in the wild is just one year. However, captive ones can reach 13 years, maybe more.

ID: A small colorful falcon with two dark mustache marks on either side of its head. It has white cheeks. Males are very colorful with a red tail and a broad black stripe at the end. Males have a two toned red and grey/blue back while the females are an overall brown color. There is no plumage difference between juveniles and adults.

Hunting: This species uses perches and hovering as its two main hunting strategies.

Prey: Kestrels eat reptiles, rodents, small birds, and large insects.

Breeding: Kestrels mate for life. They don’t build their own nests; they use cavities in cliffs and trees. Their breeding season begins in spring. The females lay and incubate clutches of 3 to 6 eggs, though their mates sometimes incubate the clutches for short periods. The incubation period lasts for a month. Once hatched, the young reach their adult weight and size in 16 or 17 days, and fledge after 29 or 31 days.

Range: This species can be found in most of the North American continent, avoiding only the northernmost regions of Canada and Alaska.

Status: They are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.