Wednesday, April 2, 2008

American Kestrels

There is an unexplainable fascination that I have with the AMERICAN KESTREL. Whether it's this bird's striking blues and burnt orange coloring, or it's falcon features, a KESTREL certainly stands out when spotted perched on a power line, or in this case, a steel post. I have swum with PEREGRINE FALCONS, but I assure you that the AMERICAN KESTREL (North America's smallest falcon) is just as stunning a raptor. The KESTREL is a more accessible and certainly more visible bird of prey. I see them regularly while traveling for work and the sight of them never gets old. Today, while driving in St. Mary's County, Maryland, I spotted one on a country road (Rt. 5) on the way to the Board of Education.The AMERICAN KESTREL hunts from high perches or on the wing. When hunting in-flight, the KESTREL will hover while searching the ground for prey. However, when this bird wants to fly somewhere, it's flight graceful, rapid and unmistakable. Oh, and I almost forgot... the KESTREL has a high-pitched alarm call that can be heard frequently, especially when the pair have newly-fledged young, or when they swarm a larger bird of prey.Sue Ricciardi runs a HAWK WATCH every Spring at Anne Arundel County's Fort Smallwood Park. This year, she had a high count of 104 KESTRELS on March 20th, 2008. To date, there have been over 265 AMERICAN KESTRELS that have passed over the park on their migration North.There are two KESTRELS that have successfully raised a family in Baltimore City of all places. David Curson, of Baltimore's Audubon Office informed me that a pair of KESTRELS have raised a few broods in recent years just North of Patterson Park... on a city street no less!So the next time your driving through rural (or urban!) Maryland, think twice before assuming that the plump bird on the wire in a MOURNING DOVE. If it's got a bulbous head and some vibrant blue and orange hues... that more than likely is an AMERICAN KESTREL.Oh, but do pay attention to the roads!

-Dan

1 comment:

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