Humber Bay Park East
12 November 2014
American Kestrel Falco sparverius is the most colourful of falcons, and one of the toughest too. Although its range covers most of North, Central and South America, many individuals do not migrate to escape the winter at these latitudes. This male was photographed yesterday, scanning the grass below for signs of rodents, or perhaps an injured songbird.
Kestrels are pretty opportunistic feeders and during the summer months consume a great deal of insects, especially the larger types such as dragonflies, damselflies and crickets.
Many years ago I saw one take down a Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus that was feeding on the ground. It took a while for the kestrel to subdue and dispatch its prey, which it then dragged off along the ground. Surely this must represent the absolute limit of the prey size a kestrel could handle, and it doubtless is an unusual choice for I have never seen it capture anything remotely that size since.
During the winter months, voles and other rodents comprise almost a hundred percent of its food, and an American Kestrel is an efficient hunter.
Their bright colours certainly enliven the winter landscape.