American Kestrel

Scientific Name:

Falco sparverius

Type:

Bird

Habitat:

Open, grassland areas as well as desert areas and farmlands

Range:

North America

Status:

Least Concern (IUCN Red List)

This species is

NATIVE

to the Truckee Meadows.

Identification:

American kestrels are the smallest falcons in North America. Males are considered one of the more colorful birds of prey as they have a “slate-blue” color on their heads and wings. Both male and female American kestrels have a rusty, reddish color on their backs and tails with females having the rusty, reddish color on their wings and traces of the blue color above their eyes. American kestrels have up to a 2 foot wingspan, but are only about the size of a mourning dove.

Fast Facts:

  • American kestrels can be viewed in open park areas by looking for poles, high fences and other perch areas where they will sit waiting to capture flying and ground insects, smaller reptiles and amphibians, and small rodents.

  • American kestrels typically live in tree cavities and cliffs, but may live in the older nests of magpies.

  • If you watch baseball in person or on TV, chances are you have seen American kestrels' aerial skills while diving for insects that are attracted by the stadium lights in the spring and summer months.

  • American kestrels are considered the most widespread member of the falcon family.

  • American Kestrels have been seen in Washoe Valley, Rancho San Rafael, and in east Truckee Meadows, close to the land acquired by the Parks Foundation for the new Nature Study Area.

  • The Spanish name for American kestrels is Cernicalo americano.

Sources:

  • National Audubon Society, on line guide to North American Birds, 2021, audubon.org

  • Cornell Lab of Ornithology, American Kestrel Overview, All About Birds, March 2021, allaboutbirds.org/guide

  • US Fish and Wildlife Service, About American Kestrels, March, 2021, fws.gov

  • IUCN Red List, American Kestrel, assessed 2016, site 2021, iucnrelist.org

Contributor(s):

Caron Tayloe (research & content)

Alex Shahbazi (edits & page design)

Last Updated:

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