Jan 212014
 

I spotted this female American Kestrel perched on a parking lot lamp just next to a large open field. This short grass field was surrounded by utility lines and other lampposts—just the kind of habitat kestrels on the hunt prefer. The utility lines and such give the kestrels plenty of places where they can survey the field from a high vantage point. Any mouse or grasshopper on the move in the grass below is sure to be spotted by these sharp-eyed birds.

American Kestrel - Hover

The female kestrel was not alone for long. Her blue-winged mate soon joined her on the lamppost. But he did not stay for long. The male kestrel launched from the lamp with a florish, and was soon engaged in another typical kestrel hunting behavior—the hover.

American Kestrel - Hover

American Kestrel - Hover

American Kestrel - Hover

American Kestrels on the hunt will often hover over a promising spot while they wait for an opportune moment. A slight breeze in their faces aids them in this endeavor. Once their intended target is in the right position, the kestrel will drop suddenly from the sky to pounce on their victim without warning. We witnessed this behavior multiple times, but each time the kestrels came up empty. It is hard work being a bird of prey!

You can see a little of this hovering behavior in the animated gif image below.

American Kestrel - Hover

Later in the day, both the male and female were seen hover-hunting together over the same field.

American Kestrel - Hover

American Kestrel - Hover

American Kestrel - Hover

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