Nature Journal
with Photos

          
American Kestrel Identification Tips
(Credit: U. S. Geological Survey)
 
General Information
- Short, dark, hooked beak
- Small, long-tailed hawk
- Long, narrow, pointed wings
- Gray crown
- White cheeks
- Two black mustache marks
- Black spot at rear of crown on both sides
- Seen from below, flight feathers are pale with dark
  barring
- Juveniles and immature females like adult female

Adult male
- Rust patch on crown
- Rust nape, breast, back and tail
- Rust tail has a broad black subterminal band and a
  narrow white terminal band
- Pale belly
- Blue-gray wing coverts
- Dark flight feathers with pale subterminal spots
  creating a "string of pearls"
- Black spots on scapulars, wing coverts and flanks

Adult female
- Pale buff breast streaked with brown
- Rust-brown nape, back and wing coverts
- Back and wing coverts barred heavily with black
- Rust-brown tail with numerous dark bars of even
  width and a narrow white terminal band

Immature male
- Barred rust-brown back barred heavily with black
- Streaked breast

Similar species
Sharp-shinned Hawk is of similar size, but has rounded wings and much different patterning. Merlin is larger with broader-based wings, lacks rust tones to back and wing coverts, has a single mustache mark and strongly checkered underwings.
 
 
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