American Kestrel

Falco sparverius

Scientific Name

American Kestrel:  
Falco sparverius

Distribution and Habitat

Geographic Range

The American kestrel can be found in most of North and Central America.

Natural Habitat

The American kestrel enjoys the open country like prairies, deserts, wooded streams, farmlands and they also enjoy city living.  They like to nest in dead trees, dirt banks on cliffs, city parks and farmland.

Physical Characteristics

  • The American kestrel is about 9.5 inches in size with a wingspan of 21.5 inches.  Kestrels are rusty brown above, with a black nape and two vertical black stripes on a white face.  Their legs are orange to yellow with a russet black tail.

Quick Facts

  1. The American kestrel makes a rapid high sound similar to a “klee, klee, klee” or “killy, killy, killy”.  Kestrels are easy to spot on telephone wires and utility poles near open grasslands.

  2. Perhaps the most colorful raptor in the world, the American Kestrel is the most common falcon in North America.

  3. In winter, female and male American Kestrels use different habitats. The female uses the preferred more open habitat, and the male uses areas with more trees.


Education Department

Conservation Status

Least Concern: The American Kestrel is common or abundant and is likely to survive in the wild.

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The American kestrel enjoys eating grasshoppers, crickets, dragonflies, cicadas and beetles.  They will also consume reptiles, amphibians, rodents and small birds.