The Whisker Chronicles

Whiskers are also known as vibrissa, from the latin vibrare "to vibrate". Vibrissa are the specialized hairs on mammals and the bristlelike feathers near the mouths of many birds. Their resonant design is symbolic of the energies, good and bad, that are reverberating throughout the natural world. Every living thing is connected and, by birthright, deserves to exist.

American Kestrel

Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife

Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife

Scientific Name:  Falco sparverius 

Where American Kestrels Live:  

Open areas such as meadows, grasslands, deserts, parks, farm fields, cities, and suburbs. Kestrels need access to trees for nesting cavities during breeding season.  

falc_spar_AllAm_map

What American Kestrels Eat:  

Grasshoppers, cicadas, beetles, dragonflies, scorpions, spiders, butterflies, moths, voles, mice, shrews, bats, small snakes, lizards, frogs and small songbirds. 

How Long American Kestrels Live:  Up to 11 years (up to 17 years in captivity)

Why American Kestrels are Awesome:  

Kestrels are North America’s smallest and most colorful falcon and the only kestrel in North America.  But do not let their size fool you.  They are no less fierce than birds of prey that are twice their size or more.  Their hovering flight capabilities are a skill unique to kestrels.  

Kestrels, like many birds, can see ultraviolet light.  One example of the usefulness of this ability is it enables them to see urine trails left by small rodents.  Think of it as the equivalent of the “Hot Now” sign at Krispy Kreme announcing the deliciousness that waits.

Conservation of American Kestrels:   

Although the American Kestrel has a very large range, flexible habitat requirements and is listed as Least Concern with the International Union for Conservation of Nature, there are pocket populations that are in decline according to The Peregrine Fund.

The Peregrine Fund has a project, the American Kestrel Partnership that is open to anyone to join.  More than 600 partners have already registered 1,450 nestboxes.  If you would like to join, simply visit their website for more information about building or purchasing a nestbox and to create a partner profile.

My property is adjacent to an open meadow so I will be joining this adventure as well.  I live in a region with declining American Kestrel populations.  With any luck, I will be sharing pictures and stories about American Kestrel residents at my house in the future.

Here is a video of the American Kestrel demonstrating hovering flight and explained by the delightful Sir David Attenborough.  In another video, Sir Attenborough describes incredible footage of a European Kestrel using hovering flight also.  Although this is a different species of kestrel, watching the brief clip entitled Stationary View is worth your time.  The physical capabilities of these small falcons are incredible!

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