Bird on a Wire – American Kestrel

I like to keep an eye on the telephone wires and poles while driving between Courtenay and Black Creek on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. This winter I’ve seen an American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) on a couple of occasions but never have had the chance to stop and take a photo.

This week I had the good fortune to not only spot another – this one a male – but also had the luck of fairly good light and weather. Click on the images for a larger view.

American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)
A male American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) perched on a telephone wire in the Comox Valley, Vancouver Island, BC.

On our spring trips to the Okanagan kestrels are a common sight. Here in the Comox Valley they’re a little more of a treat to see.

The American Kestrel is North America’s smallest falcon – it measures in at a diminutive 20 to 30 cm in length and a 50 to 60 cm wingspan. They are a strikingly beautiful falcon. The males have a rich rufous back and tail with contrasting blue/gray wings. The tail has a black bar and a white tip. Facial markings are bold and, like the Peregrine Falcon, it has a black “moustache” under the eye.

American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)
An American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) backlit by the late afternoon sun.

I’m going to continue looking for this fabulous falcon on old Highway 19A. There’s plenty of farm fields along the way that will make good habitat for the insects, rodents, and small birds that they eat so I’m sure that I’ll see another soon.

If you’ve had some interesting birding experiences and blog about them send me an email or leave a comment below. I’m hosting the next edition of I and the Bird here at Island Nature on March 3rd, 2011 and would love to profile your blog.

In the meantime, check out some of these great posts and pictures of American Kestrels:


  1. Love the photos- one of the most beautiful birds we get to see around here! I’ll be sure to submit a post to you for I and the Bird.

  2. Good to hear Mike – looking forward to this next issue (once I figure out how to spin it : )!

  3. Looks like we have a family of Kestrels that have moved into the neighbourhood here in Campbell River! The male is making short order of many of the starlings in the area, and we can hear the noises of a few chicks up in the nest!!
    He is a noisy little thing, and we can hear him coming before we see him!!

  4. That sounds like an interesting sighting Nicki – can you email me the street address using my contact form? Any kind of breeding records are important and this would be a really good one for Vancouver Island!

  5. Pingback: Island Nature  :: Bird on a Wire #2 – American Kestrel

  6. We live on 15 acres in Aldergrove, while the above writers admire the beauty of the Kestrel, it is a killing machine. Robins are now non existent on our property. Finches are gone, very little small bird life left here now.We used to wake up to the beautiful variety of song birds on our property, nothing left but crows. I have watched this stealth killer smoke numerous birds. What it does not kill, it terrorizes. The population then moves on

  7. Hi Tim – are you sure it’s a kestrel? The sort of behaviour you describe seems to be more likely a sharp-shinned hawk or Cooper’s hawk which are fairly regular feeder “feeders.” Merlin might be a small falcon possibility. Kestrels tend to hunt insects but do take small rodents and songbirds. Did it hover while hunting?

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