News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Sisters Country birds

Our most common small falcon, the American Kestrel [Falco sparverius], is often seen on fence posts, tree snags, and telephone wires. This 8- to 12-inch tall bird is also known as the Sparrowhawk. They hover overhead and kite down to capture their prey. Nests are built in cavities in trees, rock walls and even buildings. The male will choose several nest sites and present them to the female and she makes the final decision. No nesting material is used except what is already in the cavity.

Incubation of four to six mottled yellowish white eggs for 26 to 32 days is shared by both male and female Kestrels and then the hatchlings are fed grasshoppers, moths, lizards, moles, mice, and a large variety of insects as they grow at a rapid pace.

Fledging begins in 28 to 31 days and then the chicks are taught to hunt for themselves for two to three months.

Volunteers have installed nesting boxes throughout Central Oregon and tracked the hatching success. This program has enabled the Kestrels to maintain a healthy population as more nesting trees are removed and falcon habitat is shrinking. They are stunningly colored with rust, blues, browns, blacks, and greys.

Kestrels in groups are called a “hover,” a “flight,” or a “soar.” On the British Isles the European Kestrel is called a “Windhover.”

For more American Kestrel photos visit


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