top of page

AMERICAN KESTREL

THE HOVERING AMERICAN KESTREL

AMERICAN KESTREL

Introduction

The American Kestrel, scientifically known as Falco sparverius, is the smallest and one of the most vibrant falcons in North America. In Bisbee, Arizona, located in the picturesque Mule Mountains, these birds are a common sight, bringing a splash of color and dynamism to the local fauna.

Description and Identification

Physical Characteristics

The American Kestrel is easily recognizable by its small size, typically measuring about 9 to 12 inches in length with a wingspan of approximately 20 to 24 inches. Males are notably smaller than females, a trait common among birds of prey. These falcons exhibit striking sexual dimorphism in their plumage:

  • Males have slate-blue wings and a rusty orange back and tail, with a single black band at the tail's end.

  • Females are predominantly rusty brown with black barring on the back, wings, and tail.

Both sexes have a distinctive facial pattern featuring two vertical black stripes on a white face, often referred to as a "moustache" and "sideburns."

Vocalizations

Kestrels have a sharp, high-pitched "klee" or "killy" call, often heard during flight and territorial displays.

Habitat and Range in Bisbee

Preferred Environment

In Bisbee's Mule Mountains, American Kestrels favor open areas with sparse vegetation, such as grasslands, deserts, and meadows. They are often spotted perched on telephone wires, trees, or other high vantage points, scanning for prey.

Range and Migration

While some kestrels are migratory, the population in and around Bisbee is largely resident, benefiting from the region's mild winters. The Mule Mountains offer an ideal year-round habitat for these birds.

Diet and Hunting Behavior

Feeding Habits

American Kestrels are carnivorous, feeding primarily on insects, small mammals like voles and mice, small birds, and occasionally reptiles and amphibians. In the Mule Mountains, their diet reflects the local ecosystem's diversity.

Hunting Techniques

These falcons are known for their unique hunting technique called "kiting," where they hover in the air before diving down to snatch prey. They also hunt from perches, dropping down on unsuspecting prey below.

Reproduction and Lifespan

Breeding Season

The breeding season for American Kestrels in Bisbee typically begins in late spring. They are cavity nesters, often using holes in trees, cacti, or even man-made structures.

Offspring

Females lay between 3 to 7 eggs, which are incubated for about a month. Both parents participate in raising the young, which fledge approximately 4 to 5 weeks after hatching.

Lifespan

In the wild, American Kestrels have an average lifespan of 4 to 5 years, although individuals have been known to live longer.

Conservation Status

The American Kestrel is currently listed as a species of least concern. However, their populations have been declining in some areas due to habitat loss, pesticide use, and other environmental pressures. Conservation efforts in regions like Bisbee are crucial to ensuring their continued presence in the ecosystem.

bottom of page