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American Kestrel Chicks Fledging


8-8-18 A. kestrel_U1A3940

The American Kestrel is the smallest, most numerous, and most widespread North American falcon. Roughly two months ago these birds (formerly known as Sparrow Hawks) were mating and laying eggs in nesting cavities (natural tree cavities, woodpecker holes, nest boxes), most of which are located near open fields with low growth (to facilitate finding insects to eat).  The female kestrel does most of the incubating of her four to five eggs (one month), and all of the brooding (one month).  The male rises to the occasion and feeds the newly-hatched chicks for the first 7-10 days, and then the pair shares the feeding.

After 26 – 28 days in the nest, American Kestrel chicks are ready to fledge.  Their first flight, consisting of alternate fluttering and gliding, can be quite short or as long as 200 yards, and typically ends with an awkward landing.  After the chicks have fledged, the parents continue to feed them for up to 12 days. During this period young American Kestrels have been observed returning to their nest cavity to roost.

(Photo:  Male American Kestrel nestling, roughly 22 days old. Note feathered “eye” spots on back of head (serve to ward off predators) are already showing. Thanks to Joan Waltermire, John Douglas, David Merker, and Sebastion and Carter Lousada for photo op.)

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6 responses

  1. Diane

    A favorite of mine. Most articles I’ve read say they are on the decline.

    August 6, 2018 at 8:04 am

  2. In 2004, when I lived in Cambridge, kestrels nested in the back deck of a triple-decker belonging to my neighbor. All summer I could hearing them calling around the neighborhood, but could never figure out where they had nested. Until one evening when a different neighbor left me an excited message telling me she had found them. I was able to find several discrete spots from which I could observe as they were still in the nest. There were three babies–two boys and a girl. I named them Winkin’, Blinkin’, and Nod. I watched their antics as they fledged and ultimately left the neighborhood. A bird photographer friend of mine came over one evening and took a slew of photos which I still have. That was an experience of a lifetime.

    August 6, 2018 at 8:26 am

    • Amazing experience anywhere but especially in the city!

      August 6, 2018 at 8:40 am

  3. Patricia D March

    How are you sexing the chicks??

    August 6, 2018 at 9:26 am

  4. Alice Pratt

    I’ve seen them hover…which is a wonderful sight.

    August 6, 2018 at 4:33 pm

  5. Char Delabar


    August 7, 2018 at 8:32 am

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