Thursday, March 18, 2010

American Kestrel

I'm not really quite sure what 'home' is -- as a Canadian, I feel that I've come home in moving back to Canada; yet, on the other hand, my house is south of the border--in the land of American Kestrels.  Well, we do get American Kestrels here on the Vancouver Coast--and no, my patriotism does not extend to re-naming them Canadian Kestrels--but they are much farther and fewer between.  I generally see these smallest of the falcons of the US and Canada when I am at my US home--they tend to perch on the telephone wires just like the one above.  In my experience, I have found the females are usually visibly bigger than the males, though on checking my observations in the Nat Geo Complete, I find that the sexes are of a similar size.  But then again, comparative size only works when you have two birds of opposite sex!  Therefore I have had to learn the other distinctions between male and female. The most obvious is color, of course--the males have blue wings while the females have brown ones, but one can't always see the wings (or the light's bad...).  The difference in chest pattern (spots for the male, streaks for the female) is the distinction I find most reliable, as it's frequently easily seen from a distance.  In addition, it's easy to remember as the female also streaks, or rather bars, on the tail, while the male just has the tail band.  All these differences mean that 9/10 times I can sex the bird correctly and quickly--now I just have to get more of them to fly up north so I can keep my eye in.