The American kestrel (Falco sparverius) is a small falcon that breeds in open and semi-open areas across most of North America to South America. They nest in cavities or nesting boxes and the male provides food for the female during nesting.
Adults are 23-27 cm in length with white cheeks with two black vertical lines, one in front of the eye and one at the ear. They have long slim pointed wings, a blue-grey cap and a long chestnut tail. Their back is chestnut with black bars.
Adult males have a chestnut patch on top of the head; their wings are blue-grey, their belly is pale and their tail has a black band near the end. Adult females have chestnut wings with black bars and chestnut streaks on the breast; their heads are duller in color. The call of the American kestrel is a shrill killy-killy-killy sound
Birds in northern Canada and Alaska migrate further south. Their favorite habitats are the borders of woodlands, farmlands, open fields, pastures with scattered trees, suburban areas, grasslands, marshes, deserts with giant cacti, and forest openings. This small falcon species is common in North America, but a very rare vagrant to Western Europe.
These birds wait on a perch or hover over open areas with rapid wing beats and swoop down to capture prey; they also catch prey in flight. They mainly eat large insects, small mammals, small birds and reptiles.
This bird was formerly known as the Sparrow Hawk. This name was unfortunate because it implied a connection with the Old World Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus, which is unrelated – the latter is a hawk rather than a falcon.