The American Kestrel is our smallest and most widespread falcon. Like many Pennsylvania birdwatchers, my first experiences with the American Kestrel occurred along the telephone wires lining the fields in central Pennsylvania along the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Though it was often difficult to catch a lasting glimpse of this colorful raptor at 55 miles per hour, the tell-tale posture and silhouette of the bird made it easy to identify.
Measuring about 10 inches in length, the American Kestrel has a blue-gray cap that surrounds a rufous circle, black markings about the face and neck, a rufous back with black markings, blue-gray wings with black markings, buff colored breast and underparts with black markings, and a rufous tail fringed with black and a white terminal band. Females are similar but have brown wings. Kestrels are the only falcons known to nest in man-made nesting boxes.