American kestrel

Latin Name
Falco sparverius




The smallest falcon species, American kestrels range from 9-12 inches in height. The species' plumage is colorful and varied. Males have a reddish-brown body, blue wings and black spots on the back, while females have a reddish-brown body and wings, with black lines across the back and wings.



North and South America




Grasslands, plains, deserts, parks, farms and cities.


During the summer, the American kestrel primarily feeds on large insects, such as grasshoppers. During winter, the bird's diet is mainly small birds and mammals.

Life History

The American kestrel nests in tree hollows. The female lays and incubates four-five eggs while the male brings food to her, and later, the chicks.

Special Adaptations
  • The American kestrel can use its wings to hover in flight to scan the ground for prey.
  • The species' strong talons and sharp beak enable it to firmly grasp and tear the birds, mammals and insects it catches.

ARKive Media

ARKive image - American kestrel chicks in nestARKive video - American kestrel - overviewARKive image - Juvenile American kestrels

ARKive is creating the ultimate multimedia guide to the world's endangered species.
Visit ARKive for thousands more films, photos and fact-files!

Lincoln Park Zoo Exhibit