American Kestrel Falco sparverius Profile


The American Kestrel, formerly known as Sparrow Hawk, is our smallest Falcon not much larger than a Blue Jay. They have typical falcon body shape with long pointed wings, a long tail, hawk like bill, and talons for grasping prey. Their heads have two distinctive black and white markings that resemble mustaches and are capped with slate blue-grey crowns. Males are smaller than female and have slate-blue wings, rufous –red back, with a rufous tail with black bands and a white tip. Females have rufous wings barred with black and a rufous barred black back.

There are 17 subspecies of American Kestrel, two of which are found in Alabama. In Alabama, resident populations have dwindled from being locally common during the 1900s to rare to uncommon by the 1970s to virtually nonexistent today. We do have a number of winter visitors but few breeding pair.

During the summer of 2007 a pair was seen near the State Capitol dome and latter it was discovered they were nesting in a drain pipe in the State Capitol roof. The pair successfully fledged four young.

The Autauga Bluebird Trail committee along with the River Region Bird Club and The Alabama Wildbird Conservation Association designed and built a Kestrel nesting box and through the Alabama Fish and Game Department obtained approval to mount the box on the Capitol dome near the summer nesting site.

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