American Kestrel Falco sparverius


The American Kestrel is a widespread, familiar small falcon of open country throughout the Americas. It is resident through much of the Neotropics, although it is absent from much of the Amazon basin, and in much of Mexico and Central America it is present only as nonbreeder during the northern winter. Kestrels occur in a wide array of open habitats including desert, grassland, savanna, scrub, agricultural land, and grassy marshes at all elevations. The male is orange on the back and tail, with blue gray wings, a blue gray cap, and black markings on the face and belly. The female is similar but lacks the blue gray color and is uniform orange above. The roughly seventeen subspecies differ slightly in plumage saturation and in size. Subspecies sparverioides of Cuba, the Isle of Pines, and the Bahamas is the most distinctive; it has a dark morph that is very sooty overall and a light morph that is much paler than most other populations. The American Kestrel feeds on arthropods and various small vertebrates, hunting either from a perch or by hovering in the air. It nests in an adopted cavity or ledge in a cliff, bank, trunk, or building or adopts an old stick nest.

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© Dave Herr

  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding

Recommended Citation

American Kestrel (Falco sparverius), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: