American Kestrels abound on Zumwalt Prairie

The American Kestrel.

I finally got this photo of an American Kestrel. They originally were named “Sparrow Hawks,” and they belong to the family of falcons, which means they have wings that come to a point. When hunting, they quite often hover like the red-tailed hawks. They feed on small rodents, and in late summer the ones here in Wallowa County eat the larger grasshoppers where they spot them from their perch in a dead tree or telephone pole.

They are mostly cavity-nesters, but I have seen them nest in an empty magpie nest, and they like birdhouses if the hole is large enough. They very seldom eat song birds, and when their young leave the nest, they remain in family groups while their parents teach them to hunt.

I have seen them mostly around farmland, but they also like open spaces so long as there are a few trees and they can also light on telephone wires. They breed from Alaska down to the southwestern states and can be found down through South America.

I have never seen kestrels in flocks as they tend to stay in family groups as many as six. The male kestrels in spring plumage are outstandingly beautiful. They usually sit upright, but this male is horizontal on a dead limb. There are quite a few of these falcons out on the Zumwalt Prairie. They tend to be a little spooky when people try to get close to them, but they are a pleasure to have around on the farm lands.

E.H. Van Blaricom resides in Joseph.

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