"Power Lines and Fence Posts"

American Kestrel

        The American Kestrel is the smallest Falcon in North America. This colorful Falcon is found throughout southern Utah in parks, suburbs, open fields, forest edges and openings, in alpine zones, grasslands, marshes, mountainsides, prairies, plains, deserts, and highway corridors. In short, it is found everywhere!kestrel

        If you see a small form hovering above an alfalfa field, it is probably an American Kestrel. While hunting, the Kestrel will hover in flight, spot the prey, swoop down to a lower level fixing on that prey, then fold its wings and drop in its attack run. Very effective!

        Man has designed power lines at just the right height for a Kestrel to scan the ground for food while perching, which conserves energy. Several times we spotted a lone bird on a power line or fence post and thought it was a Mourning Dove.  When examining the bird with binoculars, it turned out to be an American Kestrel. Be sure to look for the two narrow, vertical black facial markings on each side of the head, one below the eyes and one on the rear portion of the auriculars (pertaining to the ear). Each Kestrel pair needs 200 to 300 acres as a hunting range. They have adapted successfully to live with man and agriculture. Their numbers are limited only by nesting cavities and an ample food supply.

        Most Kestrels do not migrate, but like all raptors, they will shift ranges when needed to find food. Our friend who is a rancher and lives next to Gray’s Lake in Idaho told about a year when there was an explosion of voles (rodents). When this happened, he said the summer sky was soon full of Kestrels taking advantage of this bounteous food supply.   I don't wish for rodents in southern Utah, but I do wish for you to see an American Kestrel.

        Mary K. Feezer is the artist of the American Kestrel. It is a striking beauty, live and on canvas. Many thanks to Mary for sharing this with us. If you would like to meet a great bunch of people who love birds, plan to attend the next Red Cliffs Audubon General Meeting on the second Wednesday, each month at 7:00 p.m., at Tonaquint Nature Center, 1851 South Dixie Dr. in St. George.



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