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Female American Kestrel

Posted on Dec 9, 2016

This has been one great late fall stretch for raptors for me. Not coincidentally, it has also been a poor stretch for passerines during my survey work, with very little of note apart from common and expected species in low numbers. Snowy Owls, Northern Harriers, Merlins, Peregrine Falcons, Red-tailed, Sharp-shinned, and Cooper’s Hawks have all been providing some great looks or photos. The unfortunately uncommon American Kestrel has even cooperated with this female being seen semi-regularly at Stratford Point. Her she is perched on the flagpole at the lighthouse before zipping off.



I was surprised to get photos even of this decent quality with how jumpy she is! You can see that she is banded, but without color bands there is really no way to read the characters unless you are very lucky and get close in a fortunate position with a strong scope. Kestrels are so tough to observe because even if you are in a vehicle they are going to fly away the second you begin to slow down. I have had many careful approaches and stops along the farms of Chautauqua County that ended with me grumbling about how such a small falcon sitting on a power line or utility pole could pay so much attention to the road. I am also going to imagine that those still in Chautauqua County right now might be getting on the move to the south with all of this snow…but keep an eye out for the Snowy Owls, because more of them are being seen every day at the moment.

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation & Outreach Coordinator