© Bruce D. Taubert
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By Danielle Grobmeier
It’s no secret that birds enjoy hanging out on power lines and fences — and the American kestrel is no exception. This rust-colored bird is most commonly found sitting on wires in the company of other kestrels, and it idiosyncratically bobs its tail while it’s resting.
Found in open areas such as meadows, brush fields and desert grasslands, the American kestrel is a small raptor and could easily be mistaken for a common songbird. But don’t let its size fool you. The American kestrel’s hawk-like predatory skills and diet — which includes small mammals, reptiles and birds — distinguish it from other birds of its size.
Considered North America’s smallest falcon and occasionally referred to as a sparrow hawk, the reddish-brown raptor is prone to nesting in cavities, such as crevices in buildings, dead trees and, occasionally, large, hollow cactuses. These falcons don’t create their own nesting cavities, relying instead on spaces that have already been hollowed out by woodpeckers, rodents or natural decay. The American kestrel population remains relatively constant; however, some experts believe that the diminishing presence of organic nesting crevices has created a need for man-made elevated nest boxes to sustain the species’ population.
The American kestrel is found throughout North America, and its closest relatives are the peregrine falcon and the merlin.
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