American Kestrel

Falco sparverius

American Kestrel


American kestrels have a rust-coloured back and tail, two dark lines down the sides of the lighter-coloured face, a spotted and streaked chest. The males have slate-blue wings, but the female’s wings are reddish coloured.

Range & Habitat

Found from Alaska to Chile. Some kestrels migrate south in the winter, but many stay in one spot year-round. They are highly adaptable and live just about everywhere, as long as there is some open ground for hunting and conspicuous places on which to perch (e.g., telephone wires). In B.C., the kestrel is found in the Southern Interior Ecoprovince.

Diet & Behaviour

In the summer they eat large insects (mainly grasshoppers) and during winter they eat small mammals (mice and sparrow-sized birds), sandpiper chicks, lizards, scorpions and amphibians. Kestrels pump their tail for balance when perching.

Lifecycle & Threats

Kestrels lay three to seven eggs and their chicks can fly within a month of hatching. They sometimes lay two batches of eggs in one year if the first nest fails. Predators include great horned owls, golden eagles, red-tailed hawks, and prairie falcons.


COSEWIC: Not at Risk
CDC: Yellow

More Information


Photo: Ananda Debnath