A female American Kestrel and an American Pipit’s demise

Fluffed up female American Kestrel in low lightFluffed up female American Kestrel in low light

Yesterday I spotted a female American Kestrel next to the road at Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area  in low light and with snow falling, she was a beauty perched on a rusty hunk of metal.

American Kestrel female and her preyAmerican Kestrel female and her prey

The second time I spotted the female American Kestrel had prey in her talons and when I looked at the prey I could tell it was an American Pipit. The light was still low but I took plenty of images any way. Here the falcon is plucking feathers from the pipit.

Female American kestrel with Pipit feathers on her billFemale American kestrel with Pipit feathers on her bill

The was photographed near a bridge with a boat ramp and some hunters with an air boat where making plenty of noise, I half expected her to take flight with her prey at any second. I could tell that the noise made her nervous.

Female American kestrel and her preyFemale American kestrel and her prey

The noise from the air boat was deafening but the little falcon kept plucking away. At times she would turn and look right at me as if she was saying “Do ya hear that awful noise?”.

Female American Kestrel dropping her preyFemale American Kestrel dropping her prey

After a bit I could see she was struggling to maintain a grasp on her prey and in this frame I caught the American Pipit falling to the snow-covered ground below.

Female American Kestrel after failing to get her preyFemale American Kestrel after failing to get her prey

When the kestrel went down to retrieve her prey she seemed to not be able to find it on her first attempt, this image shows her lifting off from the snow to land on the rusty metal, look at all that snow flying!

Female American Kestrel getting her balance backFemale American Kestrel getting her balance back

In this frame the kestrel was getting her balance back, she looks pretty ferocious to me! The feathers and snow were still flying.

The American Kestrel retrieves her preyThe American Kestrel retrieves her prey

On her second attempt to retrieve her prey the female kestrel grasped it in her bill and flew away from the noise of the air boat and the hunters.

Kestrel hiding with her prey under a concrete slabKestrel hiding with her prey under a concrete slab

She found a concrete slab and hid under it for a bit before she flew off which was interesting behavior.

I normally see American Kestrels with voles as prey but seeing her with the American Pipit once again showed me why American Kestrels used to be called Sparrow Hawks which is why some people probably still use that name.

I wish I would have had better light for this great encounter with the female American Kestrel and her prey, as it was all of the photos in this series were taken at ISO 800 just to have some shutter speed.

Mia

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