ACE – AMERICAN KESTREL
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Hatch Year: 2016
Arrival to WBS: 2016
Reason for Residence: imprinted on humans
Ace came to World Bird Sanctuary from the Ojai Raptor Center in California, where he was confiscated from a woman who had taken him from the nest as a chick in order to raise him as a pet (an illegal action). Because Ace was reared by humans he became severely imprinted on humans, and several Naturalists speculate he has no idea he is actually a bird at all. Which is impressive, considering his phenomenal flying skills!
As one of our lure flying falcons in the summer, Ace has mastered some impressive aerial acrobatics and even learned to hover on command. In cards, the Ace of Spades is often viewed as a wild card and our Ace of Falcons lives up to that reputation. Wickedly smart, any trainer working on him with lures will tell you that you’re never entirely sure what you’ll get when he is released. He could hover, he could make spectacular lure passes, or he could try to trick the trainer into dropping the lure or steal a reward without any of the hard work! While being one of our smallest birds Ace has a huge personality, loud voice, and his clever antics will quickly have him soaring into the hearts of nearly all who meet him.
SPECIES: AMERICAN KESTREL
CONSERVATION STATUS: LEAST CONCERN
The American Kestrel is North America’s most common and widespread falcon.
Scientific Name: Falco sparverius
Description: small falcon; long tail; long, pointed wing tips; rust colored crown, back and tail; double black stripes on white face resembling a mustache; hooked bill; in flight they have pale underwings
Sex: male has blue-gray wings, a buff breast and white underparts with dark spots; in flight he has a row of circular white spots on the trailing wing edge; female lacks the blue-grey feathers that denote the male; her back and wings are roufous with pronounced barring; juveniles are similar to adults but with a heavily streaked breast and completely barred back
Age: up to 5 years in the wild
Weight: 3-5 oz.
Habitat: open country, deserts, urban areas, farms, wood edges
Range: North and South America, West Indies, Juan Fernandez Islands, Chile
Behavior: monogamous; don’t build nests; lay 3-7 buffy-pink to grayish-white eggs marked with brown in tree cavities, building crevices or old magpie nests; incubation lasts 29-31 days, generally by the female; chicks hatch semi-altricial and leave the nest after a month; 1 brood per year except in the south and when food is abundant; hunts by hovering over the ground with rapid wing beats or sitting on a tree or telephone wire and plunging after its prey; frequently bobs its tail while perched on telephone wires; use nestboxes often
Diet: mice, insects and small birds, reptiles, small mammals
Vocalization: shrill “killy killy killy” or “klee, klee, klee”
– The American kestrel was formerly known as the “sparrow hawk.”
– Male kestrels will repeatedly soar high up into the air, call loudly, and then dive back towards the ground when establishing their territory.
– Kestrels can frequently be seen “hovering” over the grassy areas of highway cloverleafs where they find an abundance of insects and rodents. A good example of how they have adapted their hunting skills to urban living.