I don’t have many photos of the American Kestrel, so I was thrilled to get a clear shot of one at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma recently. I had my camera set up on a bean bag draped over the open window of my pickup truck when I spotted it perched on a post.
The American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) is one of the most colorful and smallest falcons found in North America. The male has stunning slate-blue wings and head that contrast elegantly with its rusty red back and tail. The female has warm reddish feathers on her wings, back, and tail. Both sexes feature two distinctive vertical black stripes on their faces.
True to their name, American Kestrels thrive in open country like farmland, meadows, and cities across North America. At the Sequoyah refuge, this species finds ideal habitat among the patchwork of shortgrass prairies, cross timbers forest, and agricultural fields.
These tiny falcons feed primarily on large insects like grasshoppers, dragonflies, beetles and moths which are abundant at the refuge. Though small, American Kestrels are fierce and skilled hunters. Using their incredibly sharp vision, they can spot prey while hovering high in mid-air. Once spotted, they fold back their wings and dive down to snatch their target with their sharp talons.
The American Kestrel is one of the most colorful raptors in North America. I feel lucky to have captured such a clear photo showcasing its vivid plumage. Though common, witnessing their aerial acrobatics and fierce hunting skills is always a treat. I’m grateful for refuges like Sequoyah that provide open habitat essential for this captivating falcon’s survival.
- Camera: Canon EOS 7D
- Lens: Canon EF 500 mm f/4L IS
- Location: Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge (Oklahoma)
- Date & Time Taken: December 28, 2011 (09:38 A.M.)
- Aperture Priority
- Aperture: f8.0
- Shutter speed: 1/1000 sec. (as determined by the camera)
- ISO: 400
- Exposure Compensation: 0
- Focal Length: 500 mm