Monday, January 18, 2021

American Kestrel

American Kestrels are small falcons that famously hover in the air, before swooping down on their prey. In fact, kestrels far more often hunt from exposed perches, like this bird on 13 January 2021 in the Nisqually wildlife refuge.  Hover-hunting is not ideal for the kestrel’s preferred prey—a wide variety of insects. We have seen kestrels flying among swallows, taking insects from the air. I have read that kestrels follow migrating dragonflies that avoid flying over large bodies of water. Migrating Common Green Darners and their attendant kestrels circumnavigate Chesapeake Bay. (These birds are quite capable of over-water flights—we have seen them on one of the outermost of the Florida Keys.) American Kestrels also hunt for small mammals and birds—but kestrels are also opportunistic, taking small reptiles, amphibians, and even small fish (Smallwood and Bird 2020),

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