7 Interesting Facts About The American Kestrel


At the hawk watch, American Kestrels come up on you fast. If someone else spots it first, you only have moments to spot the bird yourself before it’s gone. However, if the Kestrel should circle above the hawk watch and its beautiful tail is backlit by the sun, then you are in for a real treat.

For me, there is a wealth of information to uncover about falcons. Here is what I have learned about the American Kestrel.

  • The American Kestrel is the most common falcon in North America.  It is also the smallest falcon in North America
  • The American Kestrel is sometimes known as the Sparrow Hawk
  • American Kestrel nestlings squirt their feces onto the walls of the nest cavity. The feces dry on the cavity walls and stay off the nestlings
  • Wintering kestrels’ choice of habitat varies by sex. Females are found in open areas more often than males during the non-breeding season. A common explanation for this behavior is that the larger females arrive at the preferred habitat first and exclude males from their territory.
  • In migratory populations of American Kestrels, the males arrive at the breeding ground before females, then the female selects a mate.
  • The male American Kestrel perform elaborate dive displays to advertise their territory and attract a mate. These displays consist of several climbs and dives, with three or four “”klee”” calls at their peaks.
  • The American Kestrel is not long-lived, with a lifespan of less than 5 years for wild birds

The chart below shows the numbers of American Kestrels that have been counted at the Picatinny Peak, Raccoon Ridge, Scott’s Mountain, Sunrise Mountain, and Wildcat Ridge hawk watches in Northwest New Jersey.

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