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American Kestrel Bird ID?
by D. Scrilla
American Kestrel Roosting
Adult Male Amercian Kestrel (Falco sparverius)
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 and genus, Falconidae and Falco, respectively, but this is not a Prairie Falcon. It is an American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) also known as a Sparrow Hawk. 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
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:
"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 Using Bird House (Visitor Submitted Photos)