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American Kestrel

American Kestrels are the smallest falcon in Northern California.  I usually hear them before I see them.  They make a very loud, “Kee Kee” noise.

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The picture above is a female American Kestrel.  The females have brown wings and a light brown cap on their heads.  The males have grey primary feathers and a darker brown cap.

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Their species name is falco sparverius.  Sparverius is Latin for “pertaining to sparrows,” which is funny because kestrels rarely eat sparrows.  Their primary diet is composed of insects, mice, reptiles, and small birds.  You can see that it would be difficult to catch birds and mice with such a small beak.  They’re only eight inches tall.

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On the day that the following pictures were taken, the poor kestral was very agitated because these kids were playing paintball in the woods and making a lot of racket.  On top of that, it was very windy, so she really had to grab onto the branch.

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Very unfortunate for the kestral, but a nice opportunity for some interesting pictures.

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I really like the feathers covering their legs.  They’re so fluffy that the feathers look like pantaloons.

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The other day there was one hanging out on the power lines near my house.  It was quite a treat, since I usually have to drive all the way to Half Moon Bay to find them.

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