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By TrapsAndDews
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#394289
I got some pictures of an American Kestrel (the smallest falcon in the U.S.) sitting on our fence. It's been coming here about every morning for almost a week. It's been catching bugs (at least they look like bugs) in peoples' backyards.
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By NightRaider
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#394290
The majority of their diet actually does consist of grasshoppers and other similarly-sized bugs, so that's probably a safe assumption. I had a pair nest in a box I built and put up for them a few years back, though I've moved since and only rarely hear them here now. Been hoping for years that someday I'll have enough time to take up falconry so I can keep one of them or a Merlin, not sure I'll ever have the chance though.
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By TrapsAndDews
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#394293
I know Kestrels prefer open habitats, which is why I don't get why it keeps coming here. We have a very large number of farms everywhere, so why would it come here instead?
I also have a nest box for Kestrels. Unfortunately, shortly after it got put up, houses started getting built behind us. I don't think the Kestrels would've nested where there are lots of construction vehicles moving around.
I've read about falconry and it sounds very interesting, but I've decided it's too much for me. You need to be committed to it. The birds need to be constantly taken care, training them is also a lengthy process, and if you decide you don't want to do it anymore, you need to figure out what to do with the bird.
I don't know if I've seen a Merlin or not because I cannot tell apart a Merlin, Sharp-shinned hawk, or a Cooper's Hawk. I have once seen one of those three birds pin a starling to our driveway, but when it saw me, its prey got away.
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By nimbulan
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#394300
Kestrels are great, I see them all the time. Though as you pointed out, generally in large open areas like farm fields. It is quite odd to see one perching in a fence in a backyard like that.
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By TrapsAndDews
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#394303
Maybe the kestrel found some advantage to hunting in peoples' backyards. I don't see any of their predators here, so that may be why. (as I am writing this, the Kestrel is sitting on our fence again)
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By NightRaider
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#394306
Larger raptors like Red-tailed and Cooper's Hawks and Northern Goshawks will attack or eat them occasionally, so it could be that some of them migrated there from up north for winter and pushed it out of its usual habitat. I don't know how many stay in WA though rather than moving further south, but here in TN at least we have noticeably more larger hawks during winter. Or of course it could just be a weird one. A few days ago we had a Snowy Owl here in TN hundreds of miles from even its normal winter range, and one time years ago I found a heron just standing around in my yard away from any body of water.
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By TrapsAndDews
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#394307
That's cool. I have never seen an owl. They're rare here. Herons are pretty common. A couple of weeks ago, I saw an Anna's Hummingbird (which is rare, especially this time of year). :D

Here's we have lots of hawks, but I rarely see them in the city. If you're driving on a highway, you'll see hawks and kestrels perched on the power lines everywhere. (On rare occasions I see a golden eagle) I once saw what appeared to be a kestrel attacking a Red-tailed hawk. :shock:
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By NightRaider
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#394336
TrapsAndDews wrote: I once saw what appeared to be a kestrel attacking a Red-tailed hawk.
They'll do that sometimes also, especially to protect nests. That was actually the last time I ever saw the male when my pair was nesting, so I've wondered ever since if that might've ended up being a mistake on his part.
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By TrapsAndDews
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#394337
Did that pair have many chicks?

Do you see female kestrels often? I think I've only see a female kestrel once (and it was with another male). Almost all other kestrels I see are males.
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By NightRaider
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#394339
If I remember correctly, up till that point I could hear at least 2-3 in the box but I believe with only the female able to feed them past the first week or so only one of them survived long enough to fledge. And actually I'd almost say I see more female than males, but it's a pretty even split. At least I used to; most of the time now after moving I just see them by scanning powerlines while I'm driving and don't have a chance to be sure which they are.
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By NightRaider
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#394362
Only a little more than say bluebirds, you can just hear them if you tap the box or they're being brought food. The adults aren't really that loud to begin with anyway, but in the box you can at least tell if there's more than one chick. It's not really any different than any other nesting songbird, other than they wanted a LOT more space. They'd start yelling at me when I stepped out of the house over 300 yards away, but they didn't get aggressive or anything even if I walked right up to the box. Just made their displeasure known, is all.
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By TrapsAndDews
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#394402
It seems to me like Kestrels are more tame than other birds. When there's a hawk sitting on the fence, the hawk flies away the instant it sees me. One time a Kestrel was eating a bird on our fence and why I started walking to it, it didn't even fly away (I decided to leave the bird in peace with its meal, so I didn't go closer). I've read that a wild Kestrel can be tamed fairly quickly. It can even be eating from your hand after one day.
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