These nine-inch birds may be small in size but they’re huge in beauty.
Male kestrels are a wonderful combination of grays, blacks, whites, reddish-tans, solids and dots. They’re also wonderfully adapted to feeding on a variety of small prey, thanks to nimble talons and sharp, quick beaks.
Through summer and early fall, kestrels feed heavily on big insects, like grasshoppers. Kestrels migrating through Kansas in the fall are just in time to really feed up on ’hoppers slowed by lower temperatures.
In the winter, kestrels switch to small mice and songbirds, hence their common nickname of sparrow hawk.
All of Kansas is a year-round home to a good population of kestrels. They’re usually easy to see on utility lines and fences near roadways. They most commonly nest in tree cavities but will also set up a home in bird houses.