|One time donation of $25
(Received as a juvenile by Fresno Wildlife 2009)
Species: American Kestrel
Scientific Name: Falco sparverius
Size: Body length of 9 - 12 inches, a wingspan of 20 - 24 inches, and weighs 3 1/2 - 5 1/2 ounces
I AM SPECIAL BECAUSE:
I am an American Kestrel, the smallest and most numerous of the North American falcons. Male and female kestrels are colored and marked differently. That is rather unusual in the world of “raptors,” otherwise known as “birds of prey.” The male kestrel has slate grey on its wings and black dot-like marks on the chest, while the female’s wings are mostly rusty brown and they have brown streaks running down their chests. While the young birds are practicing their hunting skills, kestrels will often hunt in family units.
WHY AM I HERE?
When I was young, a well-meaning person picked me up but didn’t know how to care for me and fed me the wrong food. Now, I can’t control my own body temperature well enough to survive out in the wild.
A person up near the Bay Area found me when I was too young to fly and she took care of me the way you would a cat or dog. She raised me with her other “pets” and I lost all fear of cats, dogs and people. So if I were released today, I might just fly right onto a dog, or cat’s back, and get eaten. The lady didn’t feed me the correct kind of food, (I should have eaten mice and insects) and because I didn’t get the kind of food my body needed, now I can’t control my own temperature very well so I would probably freeze to death in winter.
American Kestrels are found throughout most of North, Central, and South America. They inhabit tropical lowlands, deserts, urban areas, and open-altered lands, such as agricultural fields.
Kestrels feed mainly on crickets, grasshoppers, mice, voles, lizards, and snakes. They search for prey from an overlooking perch (like power lines, road signs and fence posts), or by hovering in the air. When prey is spotted, the kestrel plunges down to catch it with the sharp talons on its feet.
Kestrels are cavity nesters, using natural hollows in trees, cacti, dirt banks and cliffs, or man-made boxes, building ledges, and other holes in buildings. Females lay 4 - 6 eggs. The eggs are incubated about 28 days and the young birds fledge about 28 days after hatching. Kestrels are able to reproduce as early as 1 year of age.
Picture provided by Milne Photography. www.milnephotography.com