American Kestrel

American Kestrel

The American kestrel is the smallest falcon in North America. These small, fierce raptors inhabit open grasslands and fields, where they hunt mice, insects, snakes and other small animals. They will hunt small birds when other prey is scarce. Males have slate blue-gray wings (Note the difference in breast and belly between the male pictured at left and the female, below).

Kestrels usually mate for life. They prefer to nest in cavities in dead trees or snags but will also nest in abandoned barns, sheds and nest boxes. Females lay 4- 5 eggs that hatch in about 30 days; young fledge, or leave the nest, about one month after they are born.

Kestrel populations have been steadily declining across North America – especially in the Northeast U.S. – primarily due to habitat loss and pesticides. They can often be seen perched on power lines or hovering over fields in the Washington County Grasslands.  Learn more about kestrels…

Interested in being part of a program to conserve habitat for at risk grassland birds?
contact your local office of the USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service or visit New York State DEC at: New York’s Landowner Incentive Program for Grassland Protection and Management.

The Peregrine Fund developed the American Kestrel Partnership to advance research and conservation of these amazing raptors.  They launched a Kestrel nestbox project to help restore populations across North America to a healthy level. Learn how to build, place and monitor Kestrel nestboxes at:   See instructions below on how to build Kestrel boxes. Use the Kestrel Peregrine Fund link to report your sightings and data of your Kestrel nestbox!!

​New York State Status: Not Listed
Federal Status: Not Listed

Photos courtesy Dr. Gordon Ellmers