Being a Good American Kestrel Dad Comes at a Cost

Our smallest falcon, not much bigger than a robin, the American Kestrel ranges from Alaska to Argentina. Here in North America, its population has declined, and the American Kestrel Partnership—a coalition with strong Audubon support—is working to ensure its future survival. But for the moment the species is still widespread, a fairly familiar sight on roadside wires from coast to coast. Birders soon learn to tell the sexes of kestrels apart, even at highway speeds. Females are slightly larger than males (as with most birds of prey), but more obvious are color differences: females have reddish brown wings and tail with many black bars, while on males the tail is mostly unmarked reddish brown and the wings are blue-gray. This is true even on the youngest birds, as soon as their feathers start developing in the nest. Years ago when I lived in Tucson, a friend of mine often talked…

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