Jet – American Kestrel
Jet was an orphan who, by the time he was brought into our Wildlife Hospital, had become much too accustomed to humans and was unable to be released back into the wild. It was decided that because of his relatively calm nature (for a Kestrel) he would be a good candidate for an education bird. He proved to be an unusually quick study, and was soon appearing in public. During his first season he proved to be an exceptionally good flyer for such a young bird. When his trainers are asked to describe his personality, the first adjective that springs to everyone’s lips is “adorable”.
He is an extremely reliable flyer, and everyone chuckles when they describe his flight. He tends to have a slightly erratic flight pattern that reminds everyone of a bumblebee. However, his trainers say that he never misses a cue, and if h drifts slightly off course he is very conscientious about correcting in mid-flight so that he hits his target (the glove) every time.
Species: American Kestrel
Latin 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
Age: juveniles are similar to adults but with a heavily streaked breast and completely barred back
Weight: 3-5 oz.
Habitat: open country, deserts, urban areas, farms, wood edges
Status: most common falcon in America
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”
- 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