American Kestrels are some of my favorite birds, and it was with a good deal of joy that I able to watch this mated pair hunt and congregate together on a November afternoon.
The American Kestrel is our smallest falcon—roughly the size of a Mourning Dove. The bird exhibits a bit of sexual dimorphism in that the female sports a different plumage than the male and is also slightly larger in size.
American Kestrels are cavity nesters and usually mate for life. They prefer to hunt near open fields where they can easily find the insects, small reptiles, and small mammals that make up their diet.
That was the case with the two falcons in this observation. They were perched on utility wires which allowed them to overlook a nearby farmer’s field. Often they could be seen flying out to the middle of the field to “hover hunt.”
Shortly after I arrived the female alighted on a wire with some kind of bug in her talons. It’s hard to make out from the photograph, but I see a lot of legs. Maybe this was some kind of centipede.
Whatever the case, the female wasted little time in consuming it, and then she flew on over to a nearby pole to rejoin her mate.
Shortly afterwards she was back on the hunt again. When she returned she was empty-handed indicating that her hunting attempt on this occasion had been unproductive.