19×24 colored pencil. Original unavailable and in a private collection.
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The American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) is a small falcon. This bird was formerly known in North America as the Sparrow Hawk. This name was misleading because it implied a connection with the Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus, which is unrelated – the latter is a accipiter hawk rather than a falcon.
American Kestrels are widely distributed across the Americas. Their breeding range extends from central and western Alaska across northern Canada to Nova Scotia, and south throughout North America, into central Mexico, the Baja, and the Caribbean. They are local breeders in Central America and are widely distributed throughout South America.
Most of the birds breeding in Canada and the northern United States migrate south in the winter, although some males stay as year-round residents. It is a very rare vagrant to western Europe.
Description Male American Kestrel The American Kestrel is the smallest falcon in North America—about the size of an American Robin. Like all raptors, the American Kestrel is sexually dimorphic, although there is some overlap within the species. The female ranges in length from 23 to 28 centimeters (9-11 inches) with a wingspan of 53–61 centimeters (21–24 inches) and weighs an average of 120 grams (4.2 ounces). The length of the male varies between 20–25 centimeters (8–10 inches) with a wingspan ranging from 51–56 centimeters (20–22 inches) and weighing an average of 111 grams (3.9 ounces). These subtle differences are often difficult to discern in the field.
The coloration of the feathers, however, greatly varies between the sexes. Males have blue-grey secondary feathers on their wings, while the undersides are white with black barring. The back is rufous in coloration, with barring on the lower half. The belly and flanks are white with black spotting. The tail is also rufous, except for the outer rectrix set, which is white with a black subterminal band.
The back of the female American Kestrel is rufous with dark brown barring. The wings exhibit similar coloration and patterning to the back. The undersides of the females are white with rufous streaking. The tail of the female is noticeably different from the male, being rufous in color with numerous narrow dark brown or black bars. Juveniles exhibit coloration patterns similar to the adults.
In both sexes, the head is white with a bluish-grey top. There are also two narrow, vertical black facial markings on each side of the head; one below the eyes and one on the rear portion of the auriculars. Two black spots (ocelli) can be found on each side of the white or orangish nape. The wings are moderately long, fairly narrow, and taper to a point. While perched, the wingtips are noticeably shorter than the tail tip. (information from Wikipedia)