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  • Writer's picturePhilip J Hatton

One of the unexpected, yet most rewarding benefits of photography

Discovery… new places, new people, new things, and in this instance a new bird of prey that graced us with its presence last summer.

After capturing this sprightly creature in action – which was a challenge in itself – I turned to the internet to learn more, and our little avian friend is an American Kestrel (also called a Sparrow Hawk), one of North America’s smallest and most common falcon. Fingers crossed it'll return again this year.

Here’s what I discovered:

The American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)

North America’s smallest and most common falcon, also called the Sparrow Hawk, is often seen perched on roadside wires, or hovering low over a field on rapidly beating wings, waiting to pounce on a grasshopper.


American Kestrels are attracted to many habitats modified by humans, including pastures and parkland, and are often found near areas of human activity including towns and cities.


American Kestrels eat mostly insects and other invertebrates, as well as small rodents and birds. Common foods include grasshoppers, cicadas, beetles, and dragonflies; scorpions and spiders; butterflies and moths; voles, mice, shrews, bats, and small songbirds.


The American kestrel is a common bird used in falconry, and are effective hunters of birds in the size range of sparrows and starlings, with occasional success against birds up to approximately twice their own weight.


American Kestrels normally hunt by day. You may see a kestrel scanning for prey from the same perch all day long—or changing perches every few minutes. A kestrel pounces on its prey, seizing it with one or both feet; the bird may finish off a small meal right there on the ground, or carry larger prey back to a perch.


The American Kestrel is the continent’s most common and widespread falcon, but populations are declining. If current trends continue, American Kestrels will lose another 50% of their population by 2075. For kestrels in North America, the larger problem with pesticides is that they destroy the insects, spiders, and other prey on which the birds depend.

By no means am I a dedicated wildlife photographer, but the joy of capturing those special moments, and discovering new things, will keep me coming back to photography time and again.

– Philip

The links in this article are not sponsored, affiliated, or earn me any commission


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