Quite the looker this lady is, isn’t she? American kestrels are quite common although due to their small size, you might dismiss them not realizing they are a raptor. Indeed, they are just as ferocious of predators as their bigger cousins. Most often I see them hanging out on utility wires so I don’t usually stop and take pics of them. This one, however, had itself a nice spot on top of a bush yesterday and was willing to sit long enough to allow me some nice portraits.
As I do every year, I sit down and pick my personal ‘top 25’ of each of my photo subjects from my previous photo year (Oct – Sept). For the first of these, let’s start with raptors – falcons, hawks and eagles. These impressive masters of the sky oftentimes donate my photography and it is easy to see why.
Being North America’s smallest falcon, you wouldn’t associate these guys with a big wingspan. Indeed, they are dwarfed by hawks and eagles but when they spread those wings, they really stretch out and look much bigger. Such was the case with this female I was photographing a couple of months ago. She had perched in a near perfect spot and after giving me some poses, took flight. As she did, she lifted those wings high, nearly doubling her height.
One of those pics I call ‘content over quality’ as the story behind the pic is way better that the actual image.
I visited my local great horned owls and thankfully, easily found dad in one of his favorite trees. As usual, he pretty much ignored me, continuing his morning nap. In the background, I was hearing the area kestrels making some noise but didn’t think much of it.
Well, I wish I had been paying closer attention because they were apparently not too happy with dad great horned owl being near their home. Out of the blue, mama kestrel dives in at the owl! In an instant, he launches into the air, fleeing his diminutive assailant.
Next thing I know, the chase is on. It all happened so fast, I wasn’t ready and my camera settings weren’t right to capture fast-movers but I snapped away anyway as the owl fled to another stand of trees with the kestrel in hot pursuit. This is the best pic of the series that at least shows the fun bit of action. In he end, the owl found himself a different hiding place and mama kestrel settled down.
Perhaps it is fitting that I captured this mated pair of falcons this past weekend given today’s holiday. They are setting up the family home in the same spot they had last year. In between hunting and picking up nesting material, they were kind enough to stop and pose for me.
This also provided a great example of the differences between the female of this species (left) and the male (right).
As with most raptors, the female is larger but she also has a very different appearance making it easy to tell the difference. She has brown and white on her chest and two-tone brown wings. The male’s chest is solid buff color with colorful blue / gray wings. Both are beautiful in their own right and I hope to see some little ones in a few months.
Here she comes! A female American kestrel flies overhead, focused on the photographer. A truly fun encounter with this pretty lady.
On my walk Friday through an area open space, I heard her distinctive, high-pitched call. After a brief search, I spotted her high in a tree, presumably calling to her mate. I never did see him but she put on a heck of a show as she flew from tree to tree, constantly calling.
Here, during her move from one perch to another, she had her wings tucked back and made eye contact with me. Awesome!
There has been a pair of kestrels at this open space for a few years now. I have never had any luck finding their nest though.
A random capture from my after work photo outing yesterday. I happened across this handsome fellow sitting on a light pole and while it didn’t want to pose, when it departed it gave me a few nice shots. This one gives a nice look at that beautiful plumage the males of this species are known for.
Looks like some good eatin’, eh? 😉 When I share images of this awesome bird, I always say that despite its stature as North America’s smallest falcon, it is just as ferocious as any raptor, big or small. Here is some video proof as this male American kestrel quickly rips apart its prey.
It is a bit graphic but interesting to watch and an example of the life and death battles that go on in nature every day. I captured this video and pictures the day after Christmas.
One of my goals is to try to at least shoot a little bit of video every now and then to share with you as I do know video helps to tell the stories. Believe me, these won’t be National Geographic quality (haha!) but at least will be something new and different and provide a bit of ‘behind the scenes’ look at the pics I capture.
Beautiful and yet vicious, whether a falcon, hawk or eagle, raptors are amazing creatures and the kings and queens of the skies. I don’t know how many different species of them I have photographed but there have been quite a few from North America’s smallest falcon, the American kestrel, to one of its biggest raptors, the gorgeous golden eagle.
It’s been a while since I have shared any pics of these vicious little raptors. Going back to March for these pics.
The pair frequents a little open space in my suburb north of Denver, providing some nice captures every now and then. On this morning, the male caught itself a nice little mouse and was busily devouring it. That got the attention of the female who tried to steal it and while she was unsuccessful, she did stop to pose afterwards.
I know the pair has a nest in a tree cavity somewhere in the area but have thus far been unsuccessful in finding it.