Monday, October 27, 2014

America's littlest Falcon

The American Kestrel uses strong winds and updrafts at Sibley Volcanic Preserve to his advantage, hovering above an open field on rapidly beating wings. When prey -- a lizard, rodent or small bird -- is spotted, the Kestrel rapidly tucks wings and streaks downward, head first. Most prey are caught on the ground, although insects and birds are sometimes taken in flight.

Last Friday, Karen and I made our first sighting of Sibley's resident Golden Eagle, hovering in the wind in the Kestrel's airspace. Courageous Kestrel, much smaller than the Eagle, flew repeated sorties from above, forcing the Eagle to hunt elsewhere.

The contenders:
American Kestrel: 8 - 12" body length
20 - 24 inch wingspan
3 - 6 ounces in weight

Golden Eagle: 27 - 33" body length
5 to 7 foot wingspan
6 to 13.5 pounds in weight

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