male american kestrel

flickr

American Kestrel Male by Lee Greengrass
Via Flickr:
Coyote Hills Regional Park, Fremont, CA

“You’ll get the hang of it son, just watch me.”

Two male American kestrels (Falco sparverius), father (left) and juvenile son (right). The father was focused, watching the field for prey as the son intermittently begged and watched. Even though the juvenile is most likely there so he can take immediate advantage of his father’s catches, he’s learning a thing or two whether he knows it or not.

twotile  asked:

Why do Ollie's feathers seem duller than other male American Kestrels I see on Google images

Because he was special! :) lol Just kidding (not really though) Its actually because he was a juvenile, and juveniles tend to be a little duller than adults. Kestrels are trickier to age than most other raptors because they don’t have distinct adult vs juvenile plumage. Also, the juveniles go through a partial molt half way through the year and lose a lot of their juvenile feathers, making it even tougher. But there are some general trends and signs to look for. To set the mood, here’s a picture of a pair of adults vs a pair of juveniles

I’ve noticed that immature males tend to have an overall cream or pale orange color on their front with streaking on the chest and spades or spots on their belly. Adults tend to have a bright orange chest with little little to no spotting, and a slightly paler to almost white belly with fine black spots.

Here are some pics of Ollie compared to an adult male kestrel I flew

Females are harder. To me, the juveniles have an overall browner look, probably because their chests tend to be more heavily streaked with less white and more buffy brown in between. Many juveniles have a subterminal tail band that is close to or equal in thickness to the other tail bands, where adults tend to have a subterminal band twice as thick as the others. But that’s not true in every case. Juveniles also tend to have a browner outline on their primaries while adults tend to have a whiter outline. 

And now you know!