American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)

This small, slender falcon makes its home in Connecticut mostly in the fall and spring. They are the smallest falcons found in North America and are formerly known as “sparrow hawks.”

Description: 

About the size of a robin, they are between 9 - 12 inches long with wingspan up to 24 inches.Weight: 3 - 6 ounces.Females are larger than the males. Like other falcons, they have long pointed wings and long tails. They are identified by two vertical black lines of feathers on their cheeks and an orange-reddish back and tail. Females have orange-reddish wings; males have bluish-gray wings with black bands.They can fly as fast as 39 mph.

Habitat: 

Open grassy meadows or shrubby areas with short vegetation to hunt for prey. In Connecticut, they can be seen around hay fields, orchards, pastures, airports and large parks. They do not build nests; they look for tree cavities or nest boxes. They also need perches like trees or telephone poles where they can stalk prey.Typically hunt from a perch; occasionally hovering over open areas on rapidly beating wings or soaring in strong winds.

Range: 

Most of North and South America. The majority spend the winter in the United States and Mexico.

Diet: 

Insects, grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, dragonflies, butterflies, moths, cicadas, mice, voles, shrews, small snakes, frogs and small birds. They do not drink water; they gather moisture needed from their prey.

Life Span: 

Up to 3 years in the wild. Approximately 17 years under human care in an accredited AZA conservation facility.

Family Life: 

In Connecticut, courtship begins late March to early April. Approximately 4 - 5 eggs are laid. Incubation; 29 - 31 days. Males catch most of the food for the brooding female and the developing young. Chicks fly about a month after hatching and stay with their parents for several weeks.

Status: 

Threatened in the state of Connecticut.