American Kestrel

Falco sparverius




Caracaras and Falcons (Falconidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

White or pale pink heavily marked with brown.

Number of Eggs:

3 - 7

Incubation Days:

29 - 30

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Location:

In old flicker tree holes, niches in walls., 12 - 80 feet above ground.

Nest Material:

Uses little, if any, nest material.





American Kestrel: Small North American kestrel, a dainty falcon with two distinct black facial stripes and rust brown tail and back. Male has slate-blue wings and black-spotted underparts. Female is brown-barred above, has narrow tail bands, and brown-streaked white underparts.

Range and Habitat

American Kestrel: Common throughout much of North America. Breeds from Northwest Territories and Alaska east through Maritime Provinces and south throughout most of the continent. Usually winters north to British Columbia, Great Lakes, and New England. Preferred habitats include towns, cities, parks, farmlands, and open country.

Breeding and Nesting

American Kestrel: Female is promiscuous, mating with two or three males prior to settling with a single mate. Three to seven white or pale pink eggs are laid, usually in a tree cavity. Incubation ranges from 29 to 30 days and is carried out by the female; however, the male occasionally takes over incubation duties.

Foraging and Feeding

American Kestrel: Hunts in early morning and evening in summer, eating mostly large insects such as grasshoppers. During winter months, hunts throughout daylight hours and eats small mammals, birds, and amphibians.


American Kestrel: Alarm call is a quick, loud "klee-klee-klee" or "killy, killy, killy."

Similar Species

American Kestrel: Sharp-shinned Hawk is larger with rounded wings and different overall pattern. Merlin is larger with broader-based wings, lacks rust-brown tones on back and wings, has single moustache stripe mark, and strongly checkered underwings.


Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X