Friday, December 2, 2011

Camera Critters # 191 - American Kestrel

Meet "Little Guy!"

A few weeks ago I had an amazing opportunity to photograph birds used in the education program of the Raptor Conservancy of Virginia. If you would like to see my photos of the owls that were also included, you can click on the 'Raptor Conservancy of Virginia' label underneath this post.

It was the first time I had ever been as close as I was to these beautiful birds, and here is the American Kestrel. They all enthralled me and I loved them all but I found I had a special fondness for this one.

Little Guy's story is that he hit a window of the U.S. Capitol at high speed. Sadly he permanently damaged his wing and both eyes, but he is receiving a lot of love and attention at the Conservancy and has adapted to his new role of 'avian ambassador'. Before I became so interested in birds, I had no idea that each one had a personality. Little Guy showed his beautifully. He was very entertaining and very cooperative as we were told all about his kind.

If you have been visiting for a while, you may remember the photo above. I took a little liberty with it which you can see here if you care to check it out. In the photo below you can see how he fluffed his feathers out suddenly. I'm not sure why he displayed this behavior, maybe as simple as just wanting to stretch a bit. He did have a habit of bobbing his head up and down which we were told was a sign of pure contentment.

The American Kestrel (Falco sparverius), is sometimes known as the Sparrow Hawk, is the most common falcon in North America, and is found in a wide variety of habitats. It is a small falcon and the only kestrel found in the Americas

It is the smallest falcon in North America and is about 7 to 8 inches long (19-21 centimeters). It is about the size of a large thrush. The male weighs 3.6-4.2 oz. (103-120 grams) and the female 4.4-5.9 oz. (126-166 grams). Males have blue-grey wings with black spots and white undersides with black barring. The back is rufous with barring on the lower half. The belly and flanks are white with black spotting, and the tail is also rufous with a white or rufous tip and black subterminal band.

The back and wings of the female American Kestrel are rufous with dark brown barring, and the undersides are creamy to buff with heavy brown streaking. The tail is noticeably different from the male, being rufous in color, with numerous narrow, dark black bars.

Juveniles exhibit coloration patterns similar to the adults.

In both sexes the head is white with a bluish-grey top. There are also two narrow, vertical black facial markings on each side of the head, while other falcons have one. Two black spots (ocelli) can be found on each side of the white or orangish nape. The function of these spots is debated, but the most commonly accepted theory is that they act as 'false eyes', and help to protect the bird from potential attackers. The wings are moderately long, fairly narrow and taper to a point. While the kestrel is perched, the wingtips are noticeably shorter than the tail tip.

The American Kestrel hunts by hovering in the air with rapid wing beats or perching and scanning the ground for prey. Its diet typically consists of grasshoppers, lizards, mice and other small birds.

It nests in cavities in trees, cliffs, buildings and other structures.

The female lays three to seven eggs which both sexes help to incubate. Its breeding range extends from central and western Alaska across northern Canada to Nova Scotia, and south throughout North America, into central Mexico and the Caribbean.

It is a local breeder in Central America and is widely distributed throughout South America. Most birds breeding in Canada and northern United States migrate south in the winter, and it is an occasional visitor to western Europe.
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Thank you Little Guy, it was a great pleasure meeting you and the nice ladies who help take care of you.

Thank you Misty for hosting Camera Critters.
To see other fun critters please click here.


34 comments:

gigihawaii said...

These are really great photos. What a wonderful camera you have, Denise, and your timing was impeccable.

Country Gal said...

Fantastic photos ! Wonderful post of this feathered creater ! Have a good evening !

A Brit in Tennessee said...

What awesome pictures Denise !
He's a gorgeous gentleman, and posed well for his picture :)
~Jo

Jane and Chris said...

Denise, I showed hubby this post..we were both bobbing our heads !!
Jane x

Valerie said...

A breath-taking header Denise and the other shots are captivating too. Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy weekend.

Cloudia said...

Excellent post!
and with that title I trust many will find it from google searches on that term- great job, D



Aloha from Waikiki

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Ms. Becky said...

well you've got me enthralled with this guy too. I'm in love! it's nice that you showed him on the lady's hand, as it shows his size very well. his markings are beautiful and I can see his character come through in the photos. he has such lovely eyes. thanks for sharing these photos, they're truly wonderful. and thanks for stopping by my blog and saying hello, I appreciate that very much. happy weekend to you.

Marie said...

Oh, he is just gorgeous, Denise! I hate that he was injured, but how wonderful that the Conservation group is taking care of him. He really is beautiful! I loved learning about him, and your pictures are just beautiful too!

Lui said...

That's a special post, Denise!
I have great respect for people who does things like these and for those poor beautiful birds to have a protective place!

The Elephant's Child said...

He is just beautiful. Thankyou so much.

diane b said...

It sure is a beautiful bird and quite small for a raptor. It certainly has character and lovely colouring. Great series of shots and good information.

Kay said...

Wow! I'm totally in awe, Denise! You've really captured the beauty, movement and personality of that gorgeous bird. I can't get over the coloring. Spectacular!

Cezar and Léia said...

This little friend is so photogenic!He is adorable and your pictures are excellent!
Bravo!
Léia

Valerie said...

Our kestrel is not quite as pretty as yours, Denise. I love the fluffed up look... it made me want to cuddle him.

eileeninmd said...

Hello, Denise! What a fantastic post. Great information and photos on the Kestrel. They are beautiful birds. I love their coloring. I hope you have a great weekend!

Denise said...

Thank you friends.

Out on the prairie said...

One of my favorite .What enjoyable shots. I had one I watched all one summer and they can be really fast.

Phil said...

Great pictures and explanation Denise. What a smart little chap he is and I could really appreciate his size when I saw the gloved hand, much smaller than our European Kestrel.

crafty cat corner said...

Beautiful pictures, thankyou
Briony
x

Pat said...

An excellent post, with so much interesting info! I love your photos of Little Guy - he's adorable!

Janet said...

Fabulous photographs -and what a handsome little guy he is !
Thanks for stopping by today and for all your words of kindness-they mean a lot xx

Snap said...

What wonderful images of the American Kestrel. Great informative post, too. I love raptors. Happy Critter Day!

Annie @ButteryBooks said...

What an extraordinary American Kestrel Little Guy is! He may be the smallest among falcons, but his talons are quite impressive!

Ingrid Andrea said...

What a beautiful little guy! Thank you:))

imac said...

What wonders you captured Denise.

Kay said...

Great shots. What a beautiful bird.

Kay

Francisca said...

Denise! This series of photos and your narrative of the American Kestrel is extraordinary! What a pretty pretty falcon! So cute when he's preening, but what a stunner when he spreads his wings! Well done!

CameraCruise said...

Wow, fantastic photos!
What a beautiful little guy.
Thanks for sharing.
Have a great day.

eden said...

Wow, great shots! Wonderfully captured. Love all the photos.

Crafty Gardener said...

What an opportunity. Cute little guy, glad he is getting lots of much needed attention.

Gary said...

Great close ups!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

Rajesh said...

Wonderful shots of the bird. It is so cute.

Barbara said...

Great photographs. Different colour to ours.

Denise said...

Thank you my friends. I always have such a great time reading your comments.