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American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)

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American Kestrel

The American Kestrel is the smallest, most numerous, and most widespread North American falcon. This bird is built for speed, its long pointed wings often bent back at the tip. While hunting, kestrels hover above an open field. These days, the lack of suitable nesting cavities, which limits... read more »

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Winter Brings Falcons

A Merlin — like this one — hunts boldly from a high perch. A Peregrine Falcon dives on a hapless pigeon, with an air speed approaching 200 miles per hour. The Gyrfalcon can fly down even the fastest waterfowl in a direct sprint. A Prairie Falcon blends in with its background. And the smallest... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdwatching

Birds Helping People - Vineyards

In some vineyards of Napa and Sonoma Counties in California, owls patrol by night, and kestrels, harriers, and other raptors take the day-watch. They eat the mice, rats, and gophers that nibble on the roots of young grapevines. Other birds help, too, including this Western Bluebird. Wineries put... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  human interaction

How Birds' Names Change

Have you ever heard of a marsh hawk or a sparrow hawk? These long-familiar bird names have passed into history. The study of birds, like any science, remains a work in progress. New findings about birds' DNA or other attributes bring changes in classification of species, often resulting in new... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdwatching, ornithology, science

The American Kestrel Partnership

American Kestrels are the smallest falcons in the country. But they're such colorful and charismatic little birds -- they make up for their size with their attitude! In the last 50 years, American Kestrel populations across North America have declined by almost half. The lack of nesting... read more »

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Counting a Million Raptors Over Veracruz

A “river of raptors” flows through Veracruz State in eastern Mexico during the month of September. In Living on the Wind, Scott Weidensaul describes his experience counting the birds: “Nothing in a lifetime of birdwatching had prepared me for this spectacle,” he says. “As our sense of numbed... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

Falcons, Parrots, The Tree of Life

Scientists have puzzled for centuries over how different groups of birds are related. Did birds that look physically alike, such as falcons and hawks, arise from a common ancestor, or did they reach those similarities independently? This line of inquiry was given an immense boost in recent years... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ornithology, science
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