The Great American Kestrel Hawk can be found in all of Ohio’s 88 counties. These beautiful birds are easily spotted hovering in the air while hunting.
The preferred habitat of the American Kestrel Hawk is open areas such as woodland openings, meadows, suburbs and farmlands. They need to have elevated perches available for watching for prey when hunting. While Kestrel Hawks are known for hovering while watching for prey, this only work swell when there are strong enough winds to keep the Kestrel up. More often they will watch for prey from a perch high in the air.
Kestrel Hawks nest in tree cavities and often will use the nests of other cavity dwelling birds. They will also use cavities in cliffs as well as man-made nesting boxes. The Kestrel will commonly have their nests 15 to 30 feet above the ground, but have been found as high as 300 feet in the air!
Another name for the American Kestrel Hawk is the Sparrow Hawk. It gets this name from its size, as the Kestrel Hawk is just a bit larger than a sparrow. Adult kestrel hawks range in size from 8 to 12 inches from head to tail, with a wingspan of 20 to 24 inches. The average weight of this tiny hawk is only 3.8 to 4.2 ounces!
Because of its small size, the American Kestrel Hawk feeds mostly on large insects, small birds, frogs and small mammals. Kestrels will even stash food in tree tops, tree stumps, and in bushes. They have also been known to steal food from other Kestrels and other predatory birds.
The American Kestrel Hawk is the most colorful raptor in Ohio. Their head is white with blue-grey on top. On each side of the Kestrel’s head are two black vertical markings, one below the eye and the other behind the eye.
The long, narrow wings of the male American Kestrel are blue-grey. The white undersides of their wings have distinct black bars. The back of the male Kestrel Hawk is brownish-red in color, with banding toward its tail, which is solid brownish-red with a large black bar at the bottom edge. The male’s tail feathers are tipped with white below the black bar. Their belly is white with black spotting.
The female American Kestrel Hawk has a brownish-red back with brown barring all over. Her wings are the same colors. The belly of the female Kestrel is white with brownish-red streaks. Her tail is colored the same as her back, with dark brown barring all the way to the ends of the feathers. The underside of her tail is white with deep brown barring.
Isn’t the American Kestrel Hawk great?