Saturday, November 9, 2013

A great spot to find American Kestrel in the city

Among the birds of prey that visit New Orleans in winter is the American Kestrel, our smallest falcon (and smaller than any of the hawks).  While you may chance upon this species in a wide variety of open habitats, there is one especially reliable spot:  the wide neutral ground between Pontchartrain and West End Boulevards in Lakeview.

For several years, a few kestrels have taken to perching on the wires that run across this expansive lawn.  The birds are back this year; last Thursday, during an afternoon drive by, I saw one perched on the wire just north of Filmore, and another on the wire just south of Harrison.

American Kestrels are similar in size and body posture to a Mourning Dove when sitting on a wire.   Females are reddish above and pale below, and males are similar but have bluish wings (and more ornate head and underpart markings).  A male kestrel is one of Louisiana's most dramatically colored bird species.

Kestrels often bob their tails when perched.  When hunting, they often hover- something that rules out the other falcon species in our area immediately, as well as our other small hawk, the Sharp-shinned.  None of these species perch on wires, either.

Good birding,


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