American Kestrel Identification

how to ID an American Kestrel from other falcons

Q: Is this a Prairie Falcon? I FINALLY spotted this bird outside on my balcony, under the roof eaves.

It has been there for at least 4-5 months, only showing up at night. No sign of a nest around.

A: You are in the right family - Falconidae - but this is not a Prairie Falcon.

It is an American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) also known as a Sparrow Hawk.

American Kestrel Identification

It is a small falcon, the size of a robin, about 9-12 inches.

You can tell by your photo that this is an adult male because of the blue-gray wing color which females lack.

Both sexes have rufous colored backs and tails and a double mustache on the head.

Prairie Falcons, on the other hand, are sandy colored all over with a single mustache, white eyebrow stripe and are larger, approximately 17 inches in size.

American Kestrels can be found in a variety of habitats from open country to cities and are quite common.

Prairie Falcons, as their name suggests, prefer prairies, plains, mountainous grasslands and open habitats. They rarely are found near home dwellings.

The kestrel apparently has been using your roof eave to roost at night.

They would not be nesting during this time of the year, but when they do nest, they use natural cavities or nest boxes.

Adult Male American Kestrel

adult male American Kestrel closeup

Here is some good close-up footage of an adult Kestrel feeding a nestling at a nestbox:

Christy Marlar submitted the below American Kestrel photos and was wondering what kind of bird it was:

American Kestrel using a bird house

"We live just south of Abilene, Texas. This bird and its mate build a nest in our birdhouse and have been raising a family. They came last year, also. The birdhouse is 2 feet long. The holes are 2 inches in diameter. What kind of is it?" - Also Kestrels, Marlene. How fortunate you are to have these using your bird house!

American Kestrel ID, Photos & Nest Box Plans

American Kestrel Nest Box Plans

American Kestrel Identification and Photos

Falcon Photos

Birds of Prey

American Kestrel Family on Lake Champlain by: Lloyd James

I have a family of American Kestrels living in a dead pine tree across from our home. I live On Willsboro Point in Willsboro, N.Y. I'm an avid outdoors person and have never actually seen these until this year. We have enjoyed watching this family of 5 growing up.

Every AM we have been awakened early by the voices of the parents teaching their young how to hunt. It has been a joy and I will definitely build some homes. I have a cabin on a 70 acre woodland with a lot of white pine, a saw mill, and will build some boxes this winter and get up before March. Did the extra board on the front of the boxes work out.

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